HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A court case in California could dramatically re-shape Hawaii's law on carrying concealed firearms. Harvey Gerwig, head of the Hawaii Rifle Association, gives his definition of Hawaii's current concealed carry law.
"For all practical purposes, this is a no issue state. Not a maybe, not a shall issue state, and that's wrong".
In Hawaii, a person applying for a concealed carry permit must show reason to carry more than self defense. Southern California's used to be similar.
"You had to show them something, some extraordinary cause why you would carry a concealed firearm. That doesn't work with the Constitution" said Gerwig.
A three judge panel in the 9th Circuit court agreed. In the case of Peruta vs. San Diego, the judges' ruling loosened restrictions, making it easier to obtain concealed carry permits.
Hawaii has since filed a non-party brief, asking for the case to be re-heard by a larger panel of judges, in hopes of the initial decision being reversed.
"We think that to have anyone be able to carry publicly presents a real danger to public safety, because basic confrontations in public would turn deadly" said Solicitor General Girard Lau.
The reason the State is interjecting is because it's strict concealed carry law would be affected by the outcome of the Southern California case, partly because Hawaii is in the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit court, and also because a similar, local case Baker vs. Kealoha, would likely be decided on the outcome of the other.
At the heart of this case - and any that deals with gun control - is the interpretation of the 2nd amendment.
"We think that the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment does not give anyone a right to public as a general matter" said Lau.
"I take the 2nd amendment to be pretty darn literal. I don't think it needs a whole lot of interpretation" said Gerwig.
There is no timetable on the 9th Circuit court's decision whether to re-hear the case or not. However, if the initial decision is upheld, an appeal could come.
"I think there would certainly be strong attempts to take it up to the Supreme Court if that were to happen" said Lau.
A stay has been issued in California, so concealed carry permit applications must still meet the stricter standards.