HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gun owners are taking aim at Hawaii’s open carry law, saying it’s unconstitutional.
A federal court lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of four owners who said they applied for but were denied open carry permits.
“Hawaii’s de facto ban on all manner of carry by ordinary citizens both implicates and violates the Second Amendment,” attorney Jim Hochberg wrote.
Under Hawaii law, a resident can carry a firearm in public only if he or she can prove that they have an urgent need for one or if they have an exceptional circumstance.
But the suit alleges that police departments have only issued one such permit since 2013.
“You can go back before that and you can see that one was not given for many, many years," Hochberg said.
The suit comes after three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last year ruled in favor of a Hilo man, who said he twice applied for an open carry permit but was denied
But that decision was set aside until the entire 9th Circuit hears the Hawaii Attorney General’s appeal.
Hawaii lawmakers believe that loosening the law is a bad idea.
“I think it’s important to make sure that the wrong people don’t wind up with weapons in public where they can endanger other people’s lives," said House Judiciary Chair Chris Lee.
Lee pointed to recent shootings in states that allow open carrying of firearms. But gun owners said residents in those state feel safer because they’re allowed to carry guns in public.