Hawaii, Maui counties revise permit process for license to carry firearms

Gun Rights

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Hawaii and Maui counties are the first two municipalities in the state to put in place revisions to their permit process for a license to carry firearms in the wake of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that toppled a New York state law limiting who can have a permit to carry a pistol outside their home.

An apparent upshot of that ruling is that in Hawaii, which has a similar statute restricting who can carry a handgun in public, police chiefs will no longer have the discretion to deny a
permit to carry a handgun from law-abiding citizens who satisfy certain basic requirements. County police chiefs had granted just four permits to carry a gun in public in the past 22 years.

Following the high court’s ruling in June, the state Department of the Attorney General met with county corporation counsels to review input from prosecutors and police regarding revisions to policies and procedures for licensing gun owners who apply for a permit to carry a firearm in public. This week, the Hawaii Police Department rolled out a revised permitting process to apply for a license to carry concealed and unconcealed guns in public.

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According to a news release issued by the department, in addition to providing police with a copy of the signed state firearms registration form for the specific
firearm to be carried, applicants must submit:

>> A copy of the signed firearms proficiency test
administered by a state-
certified or National Rifle
Association firearms instructor. The proficiency test must be taken with the firearm to be carried — and completed within 90 days prior to submitting an application. Signed shooting proficiency test results must include shooting scores.

>> Two front-facing, passport-sized color photographs of the applicant — taken within 30 days prior to submitting the application. Also, the state’s “Adult Mental Health Division’s Authorization for Use or Disclosure of Protected Health Information” form.

>> For applications tied
to employment purposes, a notarized statement by the employer that specifies the applicant’s duties requiring the carrying a pistol or revolver and stating that the applicant is qualified to use the weaponry.

Further, among other requirements: an applicant must be a Hawaii County resident with a local address and be at least 21 years old. Applications and supporting documentation may be submitted in person or by mail to the Hawaii Police Department’s Records and Identification Section.

The Maui Police Department’s Concealed Carry
Application form has also been revised, a department spokesperson said. As of Wednesday , Maui Police’s
records division had distributed 187 Concealed Carry Weapon license applications. Thirteen had been submitted to the department for processing, and one application was approved.

So far this year, the department has sent out nine “license to carry — unconcealed” applications. Two have been submitted for processing, and no application has been approved.

On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the high court granted a petition in George K. Young Jr. v. Hawaii and sent the case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of the New York ruling.

Young, a retired Hawaii
island police officer, sued the state and Hawaii Police Department in 2012 after its chief twice rejected his application for a license to carry a firearm. The case ended up at the Supreme Court in 2021 after Young appealed a decision that went against him in the 9th Circuit. With arguments similar to the New York case, Young v. Hawaii was held up by the court pending a decision in the New York case.

In Hawaii the law has prohibited carrying a firearm in public except to transport it to and from places where it can be purchased and used legally, such as from a gun shop to your home or to the police department for registration.

With the Young case remanded to the 9th Circuit, a new decision may not be available for at least a couple of months. Meanwhile, state and county officials have weighed how to balance the high court’s decision with public safety.

“The Maui Police Department’s position (is) that it will follow the law while making sure that public safety is maintained. There is a licensing process in place for both concealed and open carry gun licenses. The U.S. Supreme Court and Attorney General’s opinions do not require that either of these licenses be automatically granted,” said Alana Pico, information and education specialist for the department.

She added, “Public safety is the Maui Police Department’s primary goal, and we will continue to adhere to all laws to be consistent with federal constitutional requirements. This will help keep our community as safe as possible.”

Kauai County’s police department “anticipates finalizing the permit to carry
application process by the end of this month,” Todd G. Raybuck. Kauai chief of police, told the Honolulu Star-
Advertiser in a statement.

“We sincerely appreciate the patience we have received from the Kauai community as we have worked to update our permit to carry process in response to the Supreme Court decision. Kauai Police Department has had several inquiries from the community regarding when the new permit to carry process will be implemented. No permits to carry applications have been submitted to KPD.”

On Oahu, Honolulu Police Chief Arthur J. Logan told the Honolulu Police Commission last month that all applications were on hold while the Honolulu Police Department continues to frame its direction.

Statewide, firearm registrations were up nearly 7% in 2021, continuing a trend of increasing gun ownership that has stretched over two decades, according to a report issued by the state Attorney General’s Office. It indicates that firearm registrations have increased dramatically over the past two decades. From 2000 through 2021 the number of annual permit applications processed in Hawaii ballooned by 253.1%, while the number of annually registered firearms swelled by 319.3% and the tally of firearms brought into the state rose by 303.2%.

Hawaii is the only state in the nation that requires all firearms to be registered. Even though registrations rose in 2021, fewer gun permits were issued, with existing permits used to buy more guns, according to
the report.

The permits issued statewide in 2021 accounted for 57,091 firearms registered throughout the year, a 6.8% increase from the 53,481 firearms registered during 2020. At the same time, 23,299 personal/private firearm permit applications were processed statewide during 2021 — a 10.8% drop from 26,122 applications processed in 2020, according to the report.

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