Fate of Hawaii’s gun laws still unclear following Supreme Court’s open carry ruling

Following Supreme Court ruling on open carry gun laws, SHOPO's president explains how this decision could impact Hawaii strict legislation.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 9:38 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 28, 2022 at 9:48 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While it’s still unclear exactly how the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on open carry gun law could change things in our state, there were immediately more people lining up for carry permits outside HPD headquarters last week.

In Hawaii, it’s extremely difficult and almost impossible to successfully acquire a permit to carry a firearm. To get one, you have to prove that you have an “exceptional case” a “reason to fear injury.”

The recent ruling from the high court has many gun enthusiasts hopeful that that our state’s laws could change.

Under current Hawaii law, gun owners have to keep firearms in their home, but they can transport them to firing ranges. If they’re unloaded and locked up. They can also carry if they’re actively hunting.

Honolulu police say for now there are no immediate changes to the way they permit firearms, but lawyers for gun owners say that could change sometime this week.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a separate lawsuit by a Big Island resident George Young Jr. that seeks to overturn Hawaii’s restrictions on concealed weapons removing that exceptional case rule from the statute.

”In the course of a few bots, or so the laws would have to change. So that is no longer that exceptional case requirement. However, Hawaii is still going to be able to have training requirements,” said Alan Beck, the California-based attorney for George Young Jr.

“The mentally ill people addicted to drugs, and criminals will still not be able to own or carry firearms. So people shouldn’t be too discouraged by the fact about law abiding people can exercise their right to carry a handgun.”

Even if Young is successful, they will still face an uphill battle to fundamentally change how Hawaii regulates firearms across the state.

If that rule is struck down, state lawmakers say they’re already working on legislation that would shore up Hawaii’s gun laws, including rules that would make anyone applying for an open or concealed carry permit to go through the same firearms training that HPD officers go through.

In 2020, Hawaii had the lowest rate of gun deaths — many opponents say that number could change if the rules loosen.

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