Gun law questions raised after four shootings in five days

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Hawaii has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but following four shootings in five days some are wondering if the laws need to be tougher.

Compared to the rest of the country, Hawaii ranks low when it comes to gun violence.

“Four  shootings probably aren’t statistically significant in terms of watching a change in attitude but one of the things that have protected us from gun violence in the past is that we don’t just reach for a gun every time we have beef with someone,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads (D) Dowsett Highlands, Chinatown, Downtown.

“I’m hoping it’s not the sign of a change in attitude,” he said.

Current laws in Hawaii include having to register a gun, not being able to own a gun if you’ve had a felony, or if you have psychiatric problems.

“Having good gun laws is only part of the equation the other two parts are that we don’t share a border with a state that has bad gun laws; and the other thing is that our attitude has never been to just start shooting, maybe you punch the guy in the nose, but you don’t shoot him,” Sen. Rhoads said.  

“That’s the thing that kind of worries me about four shootings in five days is maybe that attitude is starting to change and that would be a bad thing,” he said.

Sen. Rhoads said for the most part gun owners in Hawaii use their weapons legally.

“There’s very little gun violence so I’m not sure if anything major needs to change there might be some tweaks but that would be about it,” he said.

Statistic experts agree that guns aren’t the weapon of choice in Hawaii.

“For violent crimes in general, about 10% of our violent crimes [involve a firearm], and about 30% of our homicides, and those numbers are much lower than the national averages,” said Paul Perrone, Chief of Research and Statistics Hawaii Attorney General.

He said having four shootings in almost as many days is quite unusual.

“That’s a little unusual for us, firearms are one of the least likely weapons to be used in violent crimes or murders,” he said.

He said people in Hawaii tend to use their bare hands or cutting instruments and it’s usually not a random act.

“Most violent crimes, murders, in particular, happen between acquaintances people who know one another sometimes very well sometimes not so well but there’s some kind of connection we don’t see a lot of the random street crime,” Perrone said. 

Sen. Rhoads said he might revisit operating or possessing a firearm while using drugs or alcohol to the Legislature in January.

“Unfortunately, when you’re judgment is bad, it’s like driving a car, it’s a really bad idea and you don’t have the same judgments, your judgment’s not as good and if you have a gun you can make a bad judgment and it can have really horrible consequences,” said Sen. Rhoads.

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