East Hawaii News

New Law Requires Background Checks for Imported Firearms, Too

July 2, 2013, 4:55 PM HST
* Updated July 2, 4:56 PM
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Under a law that went into effect today, Hawaii residents acquiring a firearm will now be treated the same regardless of the gun’s origin.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed Senate Bill 69, which closes a loophole in state law regarding background checks associated with new gun registrations.

Before someone can acquire a firearm in Hawaii they must first obtain a permit from the local police department.

To obtain the permit, the individual must be fingerprinted and photographed and undergo a national background check.

However, bringing a firearm into Hawaii was covered under a separate section of the law which also mandated prior registration but did not require the background check.

Bill 69 adds the background check requirement to that section of the law. It also assesses a fee equal to that charged by the FBI for a fingerprint check done as part of the registration, and extends the deadline for registering the firearm from three days to five days.

The governor today also signed into law another gun-related law.

Abercrombie endorsed Senate Bill 2, which adds simulated firearms to the weapons that trigger the offenses of first-degree terroristic threatening or first-degree robbery. Both are class A felonies.

Under previous state law, those using a simulated firearm could only be convicted of the second-degree categories of those offenses, which are class C felonies.

Class A felonies are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while class C felonies carry a term of up to five years.

Simulated firearms are defined as those that substantially resemble a firearm and can “reasonably be perceived as a firearm” or is used or brandished as a firearm.

The change in the law was supported by the Honolulu prosecutor’s office and the police departments of Honolulu, Maui and the Big Island.

“Simulated firearms are increasingly more difficult to discern from real firearms and as a result are being used to facilitate serious criminal offenses,” Honolulu police Maj. Richard Robinson said in testimony submitted to lawmakers.

“The victims in these crimes believe the weapons are real and are justifiably terrorized when threatened with one,” he said.

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