Hawaii’s red-flag law took effect in 2020. Here’s how to file a gun violence protective order

Hawaii’s ‘red flag’ law took effect in 2020.
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 4:01 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 11:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s red-flag or “extreme risk” law took effect on Jan. 1, 2020. But since then, there’s only been one request for a gun violence protective order.

Advocates say the problem is not many people know what it is ― and how it works.

They believe more resources are needed to educate the public about the potentially life-saving tool.

William Rosen, managing director of state policy and government affairs for gun violence prevention organization Everytown, said the Hawaii law creates a civil court process for “flagging” someone who may be in crisis and have access to a gun.

Under Hawaii’s red-flag law, a household member, law enforcement officer, healthcare worker, educator or co-worker can intervene and file a court petition to ban a person’s access to guns for one year.

“It might be an adult who is older, elderly parent has been depressed,” Rosen said.

“Perhaps they let slip, but they’ve recently bought guns, that they don’t know what to live, you know, that they have no reason to live, considering ending their life, that could be, again, the type of threat against oneself.”

A petitioner must file a form in state Family Court in the circuit where they live with details of the respondent, the threatened violence and firearms.

Once filed, a judge can issue an emergency order immediately to allow police officers to take possession of the respondent’s firearms.

“The emergency crisis is to get the guns out in the meantime, so that we can address the larger problem,” Rosen said.

Within 14 days, both the petitioner and respondent must appear for a hearing on the full order.

Family law attorney Kainani Collins Alvarez says the process is straightforward and standards for the gun protective order are not as high as with a domestic violence TRO.

“Your verbal testimony is considered evidence. A lot of people (think) you need to have pictures, you need to have messages, email, something in writing, that’s not true,” Colins-Alvarez said.

“If you can testify the event had occurred, or something had occurred to you or you witness something with your eyes, and you verbally testify to it, you do not need anything else corroborating that.”

But she adds additional evidence will make your case stronger.

Opponents of red-flag laws believe they violate a person’s rights without due process.

But advocates argue protections are built in, including penalties for false reporting and opportunities for respondents to request a rehearing to have the order terminated.

Once an order expires, the respondent can regain possession of their firearms after passing a background check.

If you know someone who has threatened suicide or violence with firearms, you’re advised to seek help.

To file for a Gun Violence Protective Order, click here for the form for the First Circuit of Oahu. Other forms are found under the Gun Violence Forms section here.

Click here for the Second Circuit of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

Click here for the Fifth Circuit of Kauai.

For Hawaii Island, contact the Third Circuit Family Court.

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