HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard publicly pleaded for lawmakers to approve controversial gun control measures ahead of key floor votes in both the House and Senate set for Thursday.
"We’re asking them to please, please pass these bills, for law enforcement, for all of our public safety, for the safety of our officers, for the safety of our community,” Ballard said at a press conference Wednesday morning that included Jim Howe, Director of Emergency Services.
Both addressed the growing dangers they face entering crime scenes and connected the new measures to the murder of several people on January 19, when Honolulu Police Officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama were gunned down in a Diamond Head neighborhood.
Jerry Hanel killed his landlord, Lois Cain, then ambushed the responding police officers, before setting the home on fire.
Hanel, 69, was not supposed to have access to a rifle, because he had temporary restraining orders filed on him by neighbors and police had previously sent him to get a mental health evaluation.
He may have illegally obtained the rifle and ammunition from a gun collection possibly owned by Cain’s husband, who died in 2005.
“When a gun owner dies that estate doesn’t close until the police certify that the firearms in that estate have been properly transferred or disposed of,” explained Representative Gregg Takayama, Chair of the Public Safety Committee.
Also included in the gun control package, stricter rules on assembling guns, sometimes referred to as ‘ghost guns’.
“They’re buying components off the internet and they’re assembling their own weapons which is something that is incredibly hard to trace,” said Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
And there is another bill that requires gun stores to ensure those buying ammunition first have a legally registered firearm.
Large-capacity magazines, those that hold more than 10 rounds, could now be banned for rifles, under House Bill 1902.
There is a lot of opposition from gun owners and gun clubs and all of these.
The National Rifle Association points out in testimony, that prior to 1994, Hawaii residents were not required to register rifles, therefore they wouldn’t be able to buy the bullets if the House bill 2736 passes.
The NRA also says some of the bills are too broad in scope.
Others say the laws would exclude certain groups in firearms competitions and render some guns useless because the clip is standard.
Senator Karl Rhoads, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, credits Hawaii’s already tough gun laws for the state’s low rate of gun violence. Rhoads believes these bills that are still alive in the legislature have a good chance of passing.