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Hawaii senators consider gun control bill

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:01 p.m. HST, Feb 20, 2013

 Cindy ellen Russell / crussell@staradvertiser.com Gun owners waited Friday to register firearms at the Hono­lulu Police Department Records and Identification Division at police headquarters on South Beretania Street. Long lines and wait times have become common.

Several Hawaii lawmakers are pushing for a bill requiring more background checks for gun owners in the state along with a firearms buyback program.

The state Senate Ways and Means Committee considered a proposal today to dedicate $200,000 to several initiatives intended to keep Hawaii safe from gun violence.

Lawmakers introduced the bill in response to the December school shooting in Connecticut and an increasing number of guns in Hawaii. But the proposal drew criticism from residents who consider it an assault on their constitutional rights.

"If you don't like the Second Amendment, go change it," said Ken Archer, one of several people who submitted testimony opposing the bill. "Until then, that's the Constitution."

The bill sets aside money for a gun buyback program and gun safety education and training programs.

The bill also calls for extensive background checks for people with mental health problems and requires background checks for people who are registering guns purchased in other states.

The state attorney general's office supports the bill.

Getting one "gun off of the street is one less gun that could possibly fall into the wrong hands," Deputy Attorney General Debbie Tanakaya told lawmakers.

Max Cooper, legislative coordinator for the Hawaii Rifle Association, says he supports closing the loophole in state law that lets people register guns from out-of-state without undergoing background checks.

But he opposes the rest of the bill, saying that the proposed buyback and training programs are a waste of taxpayer money.

He said the government would be better served to invest in National Rifle Association training programs and that gun buyback programs are ineffective.

Law enforcement officials also raised concerns about the proposals.

The Honolulu Police Department said they're worried about getting saddled with the responsibility of running gun related programs.

They said they don't have the resources to store guns or the ability to train civilians on proper gun use.

The department suggested giving the money to the Department of Public Safety to coordinate statewide programs.

Cooper also opposed adding more extensive background checks for people who may have mental health issues. He said that existing background checks are sufficient.

The original version of the bill proposed just a buyback program but lawmakers expanded the proposal after hearing public testimony.

The committee plans to vote on the bill Friday.

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kainalu wrote:
Hawaii probably has the strongest gun-control laws in the country. What a waste of time.
on February 20,2013 | 02:37PM
cojef wrote:
Yup, just to be politically correct. Easily influenced with how the other States react. Copycats legislation, although Hawaii has very tough gun controls. Try and see if you could obtain get a permit to carry a firearm from your local Police Chief, and see how far you can get.
on February 20,2013 | 03:23PM
yhls wrote:
An absolute waste of time and taxpayers' monies. The Democrats are going nuts on this anti-gun stuff.
on February 20,2013 | 05:52PM
moemoe wrote:
Our schools are under-funded, we have very little crime in Hawaii. Why are we wasting money on gun buy-back programs? Use the money to improve our schools.
on February 20,2013 | 06:03PM
konag43 wrote:
no state in the us has strong gun control laws. no one should be able to buy automatic guns. no one should be able to buy a gun without a medical physcological examine. they should be required to take a police supervised use class and it should take six months before they are able to actually purchase the gun. also their should be a federal law that prohibits guns purchase from online sales..
on February 21,2013 | 02:04PM
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