Photographer challenges Hawaii Taser ban on 2nd Amendment grounds

Updated: Jul. 30, 2018 at 5:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recent federal appeals court ruling struck down restrictions on who is allowed to openly carry a firearm in Hawaii.

But the attorneys who helped secure that decision are also taking aim at Hawaii's law that bans civilians from owning stun guns and Tasers.

Photographer Andrew Namiki Roberts wants to carry a Taser along with his pricey gear when he goes out on shoots.

The Kapahulu resident filed a lawsuit in federal court in April after the Honolulu Police Department told him that it's illegal for anyone to possess electronic arms, including stun guns and tasers. Only law enforcement and military members assisting civil authorities are allowed to have them.

"A Taser outside of the home would provide a way to defend myself, defend my property. I'm a photographer so I'm often carrying expensive equipment, which is a high target for crime," Namiki Roberts said.

State Sen. Karl Rhoads said he understands why some people may want the devices for protection in their homes, but he doesn't think it's a good idea to allow citizens to carry them around.

"So then Tasers become widely available and then criminals carry them, too. I live in Chinatown, you walk down the street, somebody zaps you just to take your wallet. It's a lot easier than fighting with you," said Rhoads, who is vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The attorney challenging the law, Alan Beck, said other states and cities are getting rid of their Taser and stun gun bans. He also argued that Namiki Roberts has a Second Amendment right to own the devices.

"We strongly feel this is simply the way the country is going. These taser and stun gun bans are no longer constitutional," said Beck.

The state Attorney General's office declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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