Hawaii could be first to put gun owners in national FBI database

Hawaii could be first to put gun owners in national FBI database

Hawaii could become the first state to require that gun owners be registered in a national database, which would notify police if they're arrested for a serious crime in another state.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Currently, when a person buys a gun, a background check is done. That doesn't happen again unless they buy another.

But a bill that passed the state Legislature would add all Hawaii firearm owners into the FBI's "Rap Back" system.

The measure is undergoing a legal review by the Attorney General's office before it heads to the governor's desk.

"It's about information sharing," says state Sen. Will Espero, who introduced Senate Bill 2954, "They're in the state and county database, this measure will give that information to the FBI and put it into a federal database."

Honolulu Police Maj. Richard Robinson testified on the measure, and says law enforcement isn't notified when a gun owner loses eligibility after an arrest or conviction somewhere else.

"We are basically only finding them by accident."

Espero says police wouldn't be notified about minor crimes, like traffic violations, only crimes that could disqualify a gun owner from keeping their weapon. "Assault, domestic violence, stalking, those very serious and violent crimes," he said. "We'd like to know the status of these individuals."

Critics of the measure see it as a civil rights violation and question the legality of it.

The "Rap Back" database is currently used for those on probation or parole or those in "positions of trust," like school teachers or bus drivers.

Ken Lawson, of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, said the Hawaii measure does raise constitutional issues.

Bus drivers and teachers, he said, are electing to work in those positions.

"But there's a constitutional right for me to own a weapon and own a gun," he said.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.