Hawaii Gun And Firearm Laws

Hawaii Gun And Firearm Laws
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Gun owner in Hawaii? Then you'll want to know the laws when it comes to firearms.

• General: Educational

Hawaii is part of the United States (see The History of Hawaiian Statehood / Hawaii Admission Act) and as the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

In short, you can own firearms in Hawaii. Of course, as with pretty much any state outside of Texas (zing!), it gets complicated as to what you can own, how you can buy it, and how you can transport it around. While this isn't meant to be an exhaustive guide that covers everything there is to know about gun ownership in Hawaii, I'll try and cover the basics. Always double check the current facts and laws if this is something you plan to get into.

Do I Need A License To Buy A Firearm?

No, you can purchase a handgun or long gun (rifle, shotgun, etc) without any license what-so-ever. However, every gun that is purchased or brought into the state must be registered with the state. Purchased guns need to be registered, with the chief of police, within 5 days of purchase.

Guns brought in that you owned before moving to Hawaii need to be registered within 3 days of arrival. There is no waiting period on guns that moved here with you but you will have to go through an FBI fingerprint and background check. As part of that process and a brand new law (as of June 2016), you will also be registered into a central FBI database.

What's With The That New Law And FBI Database Registration

As part of a new law that Governor David Ige signed, all gun owners will be registered into a federally run FBI database. If a Hawaii gun owner is arrested in the USA outside of the Hawaiian Islands, the FBI database will notify Hawaii police. Hawaii is the first state to enact such a law but considering all of the mass shootings that seem to make the news these days it probably won't be the last.

Proponents of the new law say the legislation is about community safety and responsible gun ownership. They believe this new law will help law enforcement agencies protect Hawaii residents and visitors.

Opponents of the law, like the Nation Rifle Association (NRA), suggest that it's another Big Brother style move and that it violates public rights and the constitution itself. They believe that this injustice will be overturned and you can bet that they'll be fighting this new law with a vengeance (because I think gun owners do everything with a vengeance, right?).

I'm A Convicted Stalker, Sex Offender, Or Have Mental Problems

Another new bill that was signed into law in June of 2016 says that you cannot own a firearm if you've been convicted of stalking or a sexual offense. Hawaii isn't the first state to create such a law and I think all of us non-stalker and non-sex-offenders can probably agree that this law isn't such a bad idea.

The third bill that was signed into law in June of 2016 says that the law requires gun owners to surrender their firearms and ammunition to police if they been disqualified to possess the weapons. Reasons for disqualification include a diagnosis of having a significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder, or due to emergency or involuntary admission to a psychiatric facility. If you fall into this group and do not voluntarily give up your firearm then the police have permission to seize your weapons. Again, seems like a pretty decent law.

Are There Firearm Limits?

In terms of how many guns you can own? No, stockpile away. It's the American way! But, there are limits on what type of weapons you can buy and own. You can purchase and own both handguns and long guns like rifles and shotguns.

Certain assault-style and semi-automatic handguns are not allowed. What's an assault-style pistol? One that has a certain combination of features as determine by the state. If it looks like it belongs in an 80's action flick with Arnold Schwarzenegger then it's probably not allowed but check with police to be sure.

Pistols with magazines that can carry over 10 rounds are banned. Though, oddly, members of some organizations are exempt from this limit for target shooting purposes (so let's hope these are the people who go nuts).

So what about all of those crazy movie style firearms? Well, things like machine guns, sawed of shotguns, short barreled rifles, and even silencers and suppressors are banned completely.

Conceal Carry, Open Carry, How Do I Transport My Gun?

Carrying that gun around in the open is more or less not allowed. Yes, you can apply for an "open carry" license for your handgun (but not long gun) but licenses are generally denied. Unloaded firearms should be secured in a gun case and accompanied by your permit when transported in a vehicle between your home and any target range, repair shop, gun dealer, firearms show, training grounds, or police station. Carrying a loaded firearm in your vehicle, concealed or not concealed, is a Class A felony so don't do that.

Concealed carry, which would let you walk around with a gun hidden down the back of your pants in classic Magnum P.I. style is also generally a no-go in Hawaii. While you can apply for a "conceal carry" license through the police, it's generally denied except for extreme cases. To put that in perspective, in a population of over 1.4 million residents it's said that somewhere around 200 licenses have been issued for conceal carry. You likely won't be one of them.

What About Background Checks?

We have them. If you're looking to buy a handgun or long gun you will need pass a background check first. You then wait a minimum of 14 days before receiving the permit which will allow you to buy the gun. As part of this process, you must also provide an affidavit of mental health and agree to release your medical records.

A separate permit is required for each handgun you plan to purchase while a long gun permit allows you to stockpile as if North Korea was landing on our soil tomorrow. Well, you can buy as many as you want for 1 year before requiring a new permit. Those buying a handgun must also provide a handgun safety training course affidavit or hunter's education card. It's to prove that you won't shoot your eye out.

Gun Safety

This shouldn't have to be said at all, but it's clearly a problem in our world. Get a proper gun lock and/or gun safe. One that stores the weapons every second you're not using them for whatever it is you'll do with it. It's amazing at how good children are at finding stuff like that (and probably other stuff you think you're hiding) so lock it up properly. No excuses. And maybe wait until your kids are no longer kids before they get gun crazy. The main photo at the top of this article probably isn't something to imitate with your kids.

What Else?

I think that about covers it. Always double check the facts as laws can change at any point. When in doubt, call your local, friendly police station and simply explain what you're wanting to buy and ask. They'll be happy to help you do things the right way. And if you ever get pulled over by the police while transporting your weapon (even legally), the first thing you tell them is what and where it is. I've watched enough Cops to know that they get testy when they stumble onto weapons.

All that's really left is to practice the phrase "they'll get my weapon when they pry it from my cold, dead hands". Do it in a Clint Eastwood voice for maximum impact. Think Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, not Bridges Of Madison County. It couldn't hurt to refresh yourself on the Rifleman's Creed either, "This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine." Yadda, yadda.

After that, grab yourself a sweet "Defend Hawaii" t-shirt so you look the part and then replace that "Mahalo For Removing Your Slippers" sign by the front door with one that reads "Protected By Smith And Wesson" instead. If that's not 'mercun, I don't know what is!