Hawaii has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but experts say vigilance still key
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the wake of the shooting at a Texas elementary school that left 19 students and two teachers dead, many are wondering what the gun laws are in Hawaii ― and what officials are doing to prevent a mass shooting here.
While the state has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, the Honolulu Police Department is reminding everyone to be cognizant to the threats of an active shooter situation.
In a press conference Wednesday, HPD said many people have developed the mindset that something like this won’t happen to them — or happen in Hawaii.
They said it’s important to be aware of the possibility that it can happen anywhere and to be defensive — rather than in denial — if you were to hear shots fired.
What does the state require in order to purchase a firearm?
Under Hawaii’s gun laws, purchasers are required to obtain a license and complete a firearm safety course. They must also pass a universal background check.
You must also be 21 years old or older in order to buy any firearm in Hawaii.
How does the state keep guns out of the wrong hands?
To prevent guns getting into the wrong hands, experts say, Hawaii laws prevent gun ownership from those who do not pass a mental health assessment.
According to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, Hawaii prohibits gun ownership for convicted felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, stalkers, those convicted of hate crimes and violent misdemeanors, and those under restraining orders.
All registered firearms must also be stored locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition to prevent children from gaining access to the weapon.
Is there more that could be done?
While the state has many preemptive measures in place, Hawaii does not have laws that restrict bulk firearm purchases, ammunition sale regulations and does not require microstamping, according to Gifford’s Law Center.
Furthermore, Everytown said Hawaii does not have in-school threat assessment teams.
As of 2022, only nine states have adopted this policy.
School safety experts said threat assessment programs help identify students at risk of committing violence — and get them the help they need. The teams are also trained to intervene at the earliest warning signs.
Statistics show the majority of school shooters are students or others associated with the school — and in 77% of school shootings, at least one person, most often a peer, knew of the shooter’s plan, according to Everytown.
What can we do to prevent shootings from happening?
Lt. Neil Han of HPD’s Major Events Division said it is important for all of us to be vigilant.
“Whether it’s the school, whether it’s to the school staff, to your school counselors, police officers, whatever it may be. See something, say something. And that’s literally the main way we can get information on preventing possible incidents,” he said.
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