HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill that would shorten the time a disqualified gun owner can surrender weapons to police was approved by the full Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 2436 is now headed to the House.
The stricter takeback bill would shorten the grace period to surrender weapons from 30 days to seven. And the discussion comes as lawmakers in Hawaii, and nationwide, debate gun control measures following the Florida school shooting last month.
There are a number of reasons a registered firearm owner in Hawaii would have to surrender their weapons. They include an indictment or conviction for a felony, drug or violent crime. Also reason for disqualification: Treatment or counseling for addiction or mental disorders.
State Sen. Karl Rhoads supported the shorter window.
"Thirty days, you could do all kinds of stuff and depending on why you're being disqualified, it might be pretty bad things," Rhoads said.
But those opposing the change call it "knee jerk" reaction to mass shootings.
"I don't think it's reasonable," said Harvey Gerwig, of the Hawaii Rifle Association. "If you can show me a bunch of data that said there's all kinds of people that are committing gun crimes, violent crimes during the period of their exclusion, during that 30 days ... then I might reconsider."
Gerwig also said the shortened surrender period doesn't give owners enough time to sell their weapons if they want to do that instead of handing them over to police. "If it was a handgun, for instance, it takes two weeks for the person who wants to buy that gun from you to get the permit. So now, you've got this two week period, (but) you've got to give your guns to HPD and they put them in some leaky warehouse somewhere," he said.
If a gun owner does not comply, police must get the prosecutor's office to approve a search warrant before a judge can allow SWAT officers to go and seize the weapons.
Supporters who submitted written testimony include the Honolulu Police Department, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, and the Maui Prosecuting Attorney's office. The Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's office is taking no position.
Former Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle supports stricter gun laws but says making those work requires law enforcement cooperation at every level.
"I think the quicker this procedure goes, the better," Carlisle said.
"If they have teeth to do it then we'll continue to be one of the safest large cities in the country."