The rules governing who the Honolulu police chief allows to carry a gun in public are reasonable, unconstitutional, go too far or not far enough, according to testimony shared with a panel of police and city attorneys Tuesday.
More than 50 testifiers showed up at the first-floor conference room of the Honolulu Police Department’s Alapai headquarters at 10 a.m. Tuesday to weigh in on proposed rules that would govern the issuance of licenses allowing people to carry guns in public.
By 10:24 a.m., 60 people signed up to provide in-person testimony and more than 400 pages of written testimony was submitted to police.
People who appeared Tuesday were heard by Lynne Uyema, HPD senior legal counsel; Capt. Parker Bode; Assistant Chief Glenn Hayashi; Maj. Joseph “Jay” Trinidad; and deputy corporation counsel Daniel Gluck.
The panel did not take questions from the testifiers.
No decisions on the proposed polices were made Tuesday and any amendments will be shared with the public prior to adoption. The testimony will be reviewed by police and the city Department of the Corporation Counsel.
“The people of Honolulu have strong feelings about firearms in general and about ‘concealed carry’ in particular,” said HPD Chief Arthur “Joe” Logan, in a statement. “It was good to see and speak with individuals who made the time to come here to express their views, and we will be going over all of the submitted testimony in the coming days.”
The proposed amendments to existing Honolulu firearm laws are the result of a collaboration between Honolulu police, city attorneys and other police departments in Hawaii.
The Honolulu City Council is currently considering a draft law that would prohibit people from carrying guns in schools, hospitals, bars, government buildings, public transportation, voting locations and other sites.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Kevin Cole, who flew B-52 bombers while on active duty, opposes the proposed amendments and told the panel that the government trusts him with weapons and that he legally carried a gun in another state to protect his family after his wife had a run-in with neo-Nazi skinheads.
“I’ve looked at the rules … these are hurdles,” Cole said. “I am a citizen. I am not a threat. I’m the one who should determine if the threat applies to me.”
Myles Shimokawa told police in written testimony that anyone allowed to carry a gun around Honolulu “must be carefully screened and must have a good reason for doing so.”
“Allowing weapons in public areas is disturbing. There are too many crazies. I have hunted since I was a kid. My dad gave me a shotgun when I was 9 years old,” wrote Shimokawa. “Except while (legally) hunting or target shooting, there should be no reason to carry a gun. Leave protection and law enforcement to the cops.”
The hearing in HPD’s first-floor conference room was meant to gather input before amending the Rules of the Chief of Police to include the process and policies for issuing a license to carry a firearm in Honolulu. The concealed carry weapons permit applications eventually will be reviewed in the order they were received and police expect to begin issuing them this month.
The licenses would be good for a year, must be carried at all times and require the holder to permit police and law enforcement to inspect the firearm upon request.
The 17-page proposed amendment to Chapter 15 of the Rules of the Chief of Police is on HPD’s website and is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen that struck down a New York state law limiting who can have a permit to carry a pistol outside their home.
In Hawaii the ruling meant that police chiefs no longer have the discretion to deny a permit to carry a handgun for law-abiding citizens who satisfy basic requirements crafted by each county.
Prior to the high court ruling, only four permits to carry a gun in public have been granted statewide in the past 22 years.
Maui County became the first to issue 11 concealed carry weapon licenses to nine people, two of whom got two permits each for different firearms.
The proposed background checks for applicants include more than a dozen searches for court records, police interactions, review of mental health records and checks with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the National Crime Information Center for warrants and the Interstate Identification Index national index of criminal histories, according to a proposed set of rules on HPD’s website.
Applicants must undergo extensive training by certified instructors which include live-fire exercises.
A minimum four-hour lecture session on firearm safety, firearm regulations, proper use of firearms, the law in Hawaii on self-defense and use of force, firearm use in low-light situations, firearm retention, and proper holsters for carrying concealed and unconcealed firearms, including an interactive question and answer session on all topics, must be completed, according to the proposal.
Personnel with the department’s firearms unit also will confirm citizenship, query Hawaii’s medical cannabis cardholder database and “any other databases required by law,” according to the proposal.
In order to carry an unconcealed gun around town, the applicant must “sufficiently indicate” that the applicant has an “urgency” or “need” to carry a firearm and is “engaged in the protection of life and property,” according to HPD’s proposal.
For those who want to carry an unconcealed gun, the chief may limit the hours, locations, purpose and amount of ammunition that may be carried.
Alexander Garcia, a retired HPD lieutenant with 32 years of experience on the force, submitted written testimony in support of the issuance of CCW (concealed carry weapons) permits to citizens “that have been vetted with the same thoroughness as law enforcement officers as the responsibility is extremely similar except citizens should not act as quasi police, but as permitted by the Constitution to protect themselves and others as necessary.”
Garcia recommends that applicants be required to pass an appropriate eight-hour training class and an annual four-hour recertification.
Hawaii is among 25 states that require state or local law enforcement to issue civilians a permit to carry a firearm if they meet criteria based on their criminal history or training requirements.
Ilima Decosta, whose daughter was killed during a domestic violence incident in Georgia, where concealed carry is legal, told the panel that the proposed rules do not go far enough.
Alice Abellanida, 61, turned out Tuesday to protest what she called “this unconstitutional proposal” to regulate who may carry guns in the community. The U.S. Constitution’s second amendment is all the guidance responsible firearm owners need, she said, while standing outside HPD headquarters.
“Hawaii has the strictest gun laws in the nation. I think it’s (proposed rules) an egregious overreach,” she said.
HPD Rules of the Chief of Police by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd
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