Honolulu Police Chief and lawmakers make push for tougher gun laws

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HONOLULU(KHON2)–Honolulu’s Police Chief gathered with lawmakers and first responders pushing for tougher laws to curb gun violence.

Lawmakers said the bills do not restrict a person’s right to own a firearm–they’re meant to keep firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them preventing tragedies like the one that killed officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama on Hibiscus Drive January 19th.

“At what point do we draw the line and say enough already?” Chief Susan Ballard asked as she addressed the media in a press conference on the State Capitol lawn Wednesday morning.

“We’ve lost two officers’ lives needlessly and now is the time to close the loopholes that made that possible,” said Representative Gregg Takayama, Public Safety Chair.

Legislators and emergency responders want tougher gun laws.

“We need to start taking responsibility of this, for our islands and make sure that our island remains the best place to live,” Ballard said.

One of the bills (Bill 2709) outlines what should happen after someone who owns firearms dies.

“Our proposal would require that before the estate closes the police certify that the firearms were properly transferred or disposed of. And that’s a direct application of what we learned from the Diamond Head tragedy,” Takayama explained.

The second, Bill HB1902, toughens the law that restricts people with a history of mental illness from owning a gun.

“Mental illness and gun control, you just cannot separate the two,” Ballard said. She then went on to talk about Jerry Hanel, the man accused of shooting officers Enriquez and Kalama and starting a fire that destroyed seven homes in Diamond Head.

“Obviously this person was or appeared to be mentally ill, and when you put a gun in the hands of someone who’s mentally ill, you have got an explosion that is waiting to happen.”

Another (Bill 2744) clamps down on homemade guns, also called ghost guns.

“We have an issue where people are assembling guns or pieces that they bought online or 3-D printed with their own home printers without registering those,” said Representative Chris Lee.

“This law would require that those (guns) have serial numbers and are registered so there’s accountability, and we can make sure that those weapons are not used in homicides or fall into the wrong hands,” Lee explained.

The fourth (Bill HB2736) restricts ammunition purchases.

“It doesn’t restrict anybody’s legal right to own a weapon. But it makes sure that people who acquire them illegally aren’t going to be able to easily acquire ammunition to be able to use them to murder somebody.”

Timothy Tenney, one of the owners of the 808 Gunclub, doesn’t believe more gun laws will make a difference.

“I think all of these laws are only further hurting the rights of legal gun owners,” Tenney said.

Tenney explained that he felt the push for these new laws is a knee-jerk reaction to the Diamond Head shooting.

KHON: “Do you think that these laws will prevent more tragedies like that from happening in the future?”

“No,” Tenney said.

Lawmakers will be hearing the bills in the coming weeks.

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