HPD asked for feedback on proposed rules for concealed weapons permits ― and they got it

Gun rights advocates swarmed Honolulu Police headquarters on Tuesday to object to how the department wants to regulate concealed handguns.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 4:36 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gun rights advocates swarmed Honolulu Police headquarters on Tuesday to object to how the department wants to regulate concealed handguns.

Scores testified at a hearing on proposed amendments to HPD rules that would allow concealed carry.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that citizens have a right to carry handguns in public for self-protection, the HPD has not issued a single permit.

The proposed rules would add significant new hoops for gun owners to jump through before getting a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Out in front of department headquarters on Beretania Street, the crowd spilled out down the stairs onto the sidewalk where some waved American flags.

Veteran Feena Bonoan carried a sign that said “shall not be infringed,” a reference to the 2nd Amendment.

Bonoan said she can’t get a gun permit herself because she has a medical marijuana card. “As a libertarian I don’t believe in giving up one right for another,” Bonoan said, “and that’s essentially what this is.”

Many people at the hearing felt the same way ― that HPD was expecting them to give up rights in order to exercise their right to carry.

An HPD assistant chief, major and captain and a city lawyer listened the testimony for hours without commenting or asking questions.

The proposed amendments to the HPD rules include more training and proficiency tests, annual renewals as well and mental and health screening.

The crowd included several firearms trainers who have been helping local owners fulfill existing permit requirements, which include a mental health declaration, firearms safety course and a clean criminal record.

Many argued those were sufficient to ensure responsible gun ownership, and the new proposals were designed to discourage applications and delay the process.

“I don’t think they enhance public safety,’ said Steven Hazam, a retired Air Force officer. “All they do is increase the obstacles and they infringe on my rights and I think, respectfully, that’s their intent.”

Others said the training and drills will make getting a permit too expensive.

Reginald Eubanks said he had followed every rule to properly register his firearms, but the new rules would be too much. “All we are trying to do is protect ourselves and this process makes it very cost prohibitive,” Eubanks said.

Others pointed out that the type of holster required by the rules as designed for law enforcement was difficult and even dangerous to use without training and would make it impossible to conceal the weapon.

Another common complaint: The difficult proficiency test, which includes unholstering and firing multiple rounds accurately and swiftly from several distances.

Critics pointed out that older people or those with disabilities, could not possibly pass the test.

“Inability to fire a pistol like an Olympic competitor does not make a person unsafe to carry a firearm,” said Joel Berg, who retired from the military.

Gun control advocates were outnumbered, but no less passionate.

Some even argued that the proposed rules were not tough enough.

Ilima DeCosta, whose daughter was fatally shot, showed a picture of the young woman at the hearing. “Hawaii is safer because we have had stricter laws regarding concealed carry,” Decosta said.

Testifier Noela Napoleon challenged the argument that an armed community is safer.

“The answer is not more guns,” she said. “This is about everyday people who don’t have proper training arming up and as we know violence happens in the heat of the moment.”

Other gun control supporters, like gun violence survivor Erica Yamauchi, thanked the department for the tough proposed regulations.

“I am grateful that the Honolulu Police Department is taking these steps to keep our community safe,” she said.

“By ensuring that licenses only go to people who are properly qualified to carry a gun in public Regardless of whether HPD stands by the proposed rules or amends them, gun rights attorneys said a lawsuit is likely, from people who believe that the regulations, even the current ones, are unconstitutionally strict.”