HONOLULU(KHON2) — The Supreme Court struck down a New York State law requiring residents to obtain a permit in order to carry a gun in public. The monumental ruling was based on the Second Amendment of the Constitution, giving citizens the right to “keep and bear arms.”
Hawaii’s state law also requires gun owners to obtain a permit to carry, which can only be approved by the chief of police. But no one has been granted a permit in years.
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Thursday’s decision creates a precedent.
Former Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said it could pave the way for a similar ruling in the islands but it doesn’t happen automatically.
“What would need to happen is some sort of legal action taking place here in one of the courts in Hawaii,” Chin explained. “Now, as it turns out, there is an existing case that involves Mr. George Young, that will probably be impacted by this decision that just occurred in the US Supreme Court.”
Young asserts the state’s law requiring a permit to carry violates his Second Amendment rights and is suing the state.
According to Chin, the Supreme Court justices made sure to point out that the ruling does not impact other laws governing background checks, mental health clearances and other laws put in place to prevent guns from falling into the hands of someone dangerous.
Tom Tomimbang, the co-owner of 808 Gun Club, said it’s a win for gun advocates, but he also has concerns.
“With my previous law enforcement background, it kind of gives me some hesitancy on who’s going to be allowed to carry a concealed firearm,” Tomimbang said. “What type of restrictions, guidelines are going to be in place?”
If Hawaii does allow gun owners to carry a gun outside the home, Sen. Chris Lee (D), an advocate for control, said he wants to make them go through training similar to what police officers go through.
“For those people who do have access, they have to be aware and trained and ready to be able to de-escalate a situation and not add to the risks because they are armed and potentially angry in some cases, or getting into altercations, even with law enforcement,” Lee said.
Tomimbang said officers go through hours of training to get into the force and additional requirements once they’re on the job.
“As a sworn officer, you get annual training and it’s extensive,” Tomimbang explained. “So you go through shoot-don’t-shoot scenarios and something like this needs to b implemented with whoever carries a concealed carry.”
He said an eye exam should also be required to ensure people can see, just like it’s required to get a driver’s license.
And they should know the laws governing the use of deadly force.
“If you’re going to pull out a firearm to defend yourself, you got to know the situation that it’s appropriate to,” said Tomimbang. “Is your life in immediate danger? Or is someone else’s life in immediate danger?”
Lee said there is a risk to the public if nothing is done.
“We’ve done a lot in Hawaii to ensure that we have some of the lowest rates of gun violence and people feel safe here. There’s clearly additional risk that this Supreme Court decision opens up,” said Lee. “We don’t want to see escalating rates of violence out in public because what used to be a fistfight now turns into a gunfight because people are walking around armed.”
Hawaii has seen an uptick in violent crime and crimes involving guns in the last year. Chin said the timing of this law is unfortunate.
“From a legal perspective, this was somewhat expected,” Chin said. “From a practical perspective. It’s probably the worst timing.”
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A spokesperson for the Hawaii Attorney General said in a statement:
“The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision today in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. We profoundly disagree with this decision. We will carefully examine this decision and consider if it will affect our laws, which were not at issue in the Supreme Court case today.“