Hawaii Governor Signs Bill Barring Guns at Beaches, Hospitals

Gun Rights

Hawaii’s governor on June 2 signed a bill that prohibits carrying guns at certain places, including beaches, hospitals, and movie theaters.

The lengthy list of places at which gun possession is banned under SB1230 also includes nursing homes, restaurants that serve alcohol, and stadiums.

Describing shootings as “a public health crisis,” Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, said the new bill will help prevent deaths and injuries.

“We’re taking action on gun violence … because most important to us as a family is to keep our keiki safe, and those that we love safe,” Green said before signing the legislation.

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Hawaii already averages the second-lowest gun deaths per 100,000 residents, 3.8, according to federal data, much lower than the average of 11.9 per 100,000 across the United States.

“People ask why would we take such deliberative action when we’re already in a position that’s better than almost every other state? It’s because, why would you ever let one child be hurt?” Green said.

Nick Mclean, first deputy solicitor general for the state, said the bill “will reduce the risk of gun violence in our communities by strengthening the state’s firearms laws, and by establishing reasonable safeguards.”

But critics say the bill infringes upon rights conferred by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

“Lawsuits are expected. Stay tuned,” the Hawaii Firearms Coalition said in a statement.

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action previously said the bill “massively expands ‘gun-free zones’ where law-abiding citizens are left defenseless and also prohibits carrying firearms on private property unless the owner gives affirmative permission,” in addition to requiring insurance coverage for people who do carry firearms in other places.

The bill is set to take effect on July 1.

Full List of ‘Sensitive Places’

The bill designates “sensitive places” where carrying a firearm is prohibited.

The places are:

  • Schools and school buses
  • Colleges and universities
  • Child care facilities
  • Summer camps and day care centers
  • Public parks
  • Playgrounds, libraries, museums, carnivals, aquariums, zoos, and recreation centers
  • Shelters and residential facilities operated by the government or a charity
  • Bars or restaurants that serve alcohol
  • Buildings and offices owned, leased, or used by the state or a county
  • Courthouses
  • Voter centers
  • Vote counting centers
  • Public transportation sites and vehicles
  • Gatherings open to the public such as protests that are held on public property
  • Stadiums, theaters, and amusement parks
  • Hospitals and other places that provide medical services
  • Financial institutions

Gun possession is also barred “on the private property of another person without authorization.”

Overhaul After Supreme Court Ruling

The overhaul of Hawaii’s gun laws was hammered out with the precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, state lawmakers said.

The bill was “carefully crafted to ensure that it is consistent with the court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment and allows for the establishment of a fair system of regulation for concealed carry of weapons in the state of Hawaii,” state Rep. David Tarnas, a Democrat, said.

Prior to the ruling, Hawaii was one of the states that issued licenses to conceal carry guns on a discretionary basis.

States must outline clear criteria for obtaining concealed carry licenses and hand out licenses to every adult who meets the criteria in the wake of the ruling.

The change means more people will receive permits after just six were issued across 21 years.

Chris Marvin, with Everytown for Gun Safety, said that the bill “sets a standard for other states who are dealing with this same Bruen decision and maybe states in the future who can strengthen their concealed carry laws.”

In the Breun ruling, a Supreme Court majority struck down New York state’s permitting system, finding that the requirement for an applicant to demonstrate a special need for self-defense “violates the Constitution.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, the George H.W. Bush appointee who authored the ruling, said that “when the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct.”

He added, “To justify its regulation, the government … must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’”

Other Bill Signed

Green also signed HB1329, which requires state education officials to work with groups to develop and implement active shooter training in both public and charter schools, though students will be able to decline to participate.

“By implementing an active shooter training program, we aim to enhance preparedness and minimize the potential risk associated with such emergencies,” Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani, a Democrat, said.

“Through rigorous training and education our students and educators will be better equipped to assess threats, make informed decisions, and take appropriate actions in the face of danger,” he added.

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