Gun permit applicants denied over medical dispute

Published: Dec. 18, 2015 at 11:53 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 19, 2015 at 6:18 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - O'ahu's strict gun permitting process is not only confusing, some say it's unfair.

The Honolulu Police Department is requiring a doctor's note that many doctors are not willing to write.

A former service member tells us he's followed all of HPD's rules, but he's stuck in a policy deadlock because his insurer won't comply.

"There was no advance warning from anybody. Kaiser, the gun stores, HPD -- nobody. You find out when you actually go to apply," the West O'ahu man said. He asked Hawaii News Now not use his name or image.

"I've been a legal gun owner since '91. Rifles, shotguns, pistols. I even own an AR-15. No problemo. All of a sudden, problem," he said.

HPD officers are now handing out a memo to gun permit applicants that states a doctor must sign a note on official letterhead stating the individual "shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition and has been medically documented to be no longer adversely affected by the addiction, abuse, dependence, mental disease, disorder or defect".

"It's some kind of new legal mumbo jumbo about I have to admit that I was treated for mental or drug abuse which I have never done, so that would be a lie. Kaiser says they won't do it so you have to seek an outside doctor. I did so, and they did not accept that doctor's letter," he said.

HPD provided Hawaii News Now with the following statement: "The gun permit process requires a letter from a medical provider stating whether the provider has records relating to the applicant's mental health history or treatment. About a year ago, certain providers stopped sending such a letter and instead sent the applicant's complete medical records to HPD."

Applicants say it appears HPD does not want to review those files and make a determination on their own.

Instead, the department is requiring a doctor to grant that permission.

However, Hawaii News Now has learned Kaiser's policy prohibits them from doing so.

"When I was waiting in line they were singling the Kaiser's out. They're not even going to bother putting in the paperwork," he said.

Kaiser Permanente officials say the law does require them to release health information to HPD, but it does not require doctors to give a medical clearance "determination".

"The police department is the only organization who can evaluate an individual's fitness to acquire or own a firearm. Health care organizations/providers do not make these evaluations," the statement from Kaiser explained.

The dispute has garnered a lot of attention on online. With many suggesting applicants simply deny they have insurance.

"I'm not in the habit of lying. It's a bad thing for any gun owner to do. I respect my right to own a firearm and be honest about it. You have to comply with the laws and do your best to be a responsible person. HPD and Kaiser is denying that," he said.

HPD and Kaiser say they are working toward a resolution.

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