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Sunday, November 23, 2014         

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Bill to buy unwanted guns allots $100,000 for program

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

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Hawaii lawmakers want to spend $100,000 to get unwanted guns off the streets, saying it will help the state avoid a mass shooting like those seen in Colo­rado and Connecticut last year.

A state Senate committee discussed a bill Thursday that would establish a gun buy-back program, offering cash to people willing to give up firearms.

Proponents say the program would decrease opportunities for gun violence. They say guns were used in 19 percent of murders statewide in 2011.

Hawaii Rifle Association President Harvey Gerwig said the organization is only marginally opposed to the initiative because it doesn't directly affect Second Amendment rights.

But Gerwig said the proposed program would waste money and could lead to the destruction of historic guns.

Similar programs in other states have unearthed unusual weapons, including a missile launcher in Seattle.

The state attorney general estimates that there are about 1 million guns in Hawaii.

The Senate public safety committee put off a decision on the bill until Thursday to give the attorney general time to propose amendments.

The rifle association has had success so far in stopping stricter gun measures from gaining traction in the Legislature. This week more than 400 people opposed a bill that would have made firearm instructors liable for accidents that happen during training.

The organization is using word of mouth, media and online efforts to encourage pro-gun efforts, Gerwig said, adding that the Legislature should instead focus on improving mental health.

Also on the legislative agenda this week:

» State representatives this morning will consider whether to require labeling for genetically engineered food and discuss initiatives related to taro and local farms. State senators plan to consider bills related to agriculture on Wednesday.

» The Senate is holding a briefing Tuesday to investigate why University of Hawaii tuition has been increasing and where the money goes.

» Senate committees today will discuss whether to allow industrial hemp research in Hawaii. The House Judiciary Committee plans to announce its decision Thursday on whether to move forward with a proposal to legalize marijuana.

» The Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment plans to discuss solar tax credits Tuesday afternoon, along with other renewable energy-related issues.






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