East Hawaii News

Record Number of Firearms Registered in Hawaii in 2013

April 3, 2014, 3:40 PM HST
* Updated April 3, 5:21 PM
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More firearms were registered in Hawaii in 2013 than in any previous year, according to a recently released report.

The state Department of the Attorney General said Hawaii’s police departments issued 21,544 permits last year covering a total of 60,757 firearms.

That was 20.6% more than the previous record of 50,394 firearms registered in 2012.

It also marked the third year in a row that a record number of new firearms have been registered.

The report said despite the sharp increases in the number of firearms registered, the number of violent crimes committed with firearms has actually decreased each year from 2008 to 2012, the latest year for which data was available (see graph below).

State law requires that anyone wishing to acquire a firearm in Hawaii first obtain a permit. Permits can be used to acquire an unlimited number of rifles and shotguns, but in most counties – Hawaii County included — each handgun requires an individual permit.

All firearms, including those inherited or brought in from out of state, must be registered. Those brought in from out of state must be registered within 72 hours.

Just over half of the firearms registered in 2013 were imported from out of state, the AG’s office said. The remainder involved transfers of firearms previously registered in Hawaii.

The state’s Legislature last year passed a law extending a background check requirement to those registering a firearm brought to Hawaii from out of state.

Of the firearms registered last year, 23,029, or nearly 40%, were handguns.

Broken down by county, the Big Island continued a trend of a disproportionate number of permit applications. The report said Hawaii County, which has 14% of the state’s population, had 5,355 applications, or 24% of the state’s total, for a total of 14,458 firearms.

Source: Firearm Registration in Hawaii, 2013.

Source: Firearm Registration in Hawaii, 2013.

That equates to 71% higher than expected based on population, the report said.

Hawaii County also had the highest number, and by far the highest percentage, of all the counties when it came to permit applications denied. Of the 232 denied statewide, 102, or 44%, were on the Big Island.

Statewide, 82% of the denials were for “longarm” or non-handgun firearms.

Of the denials, 56% were due to the applicants’ prior criminal convictions, with another 11% attributed to pending criminal charges, the report said. Nearly 22% of the applications were denied because of mental health issues or treatment.

Three-quarters of the permit applications that were denied contained false criminal or mental health information, which is a felony offense in Hawaii.

Hawaii also remains one of the states where it is difficult to get a license to carry a concealed firearm.

The report said in 2013, seven private citizens applied for a concealed carry license in the City and County of Honolulu and all were denied by the police chief. One private citizen applied for and received a concealed carry permit on Kauai.

Meanwhile, 205 employees of private security firms were issued carry licenses, while two more were denied.

Since the state began tallying such statistics in 2000, more than 180,000 firearms have been registered statewide some more than once. During that period there have been more than 75,000 registrations filed on the Big Island, but how many firearms that involved was not immediately available.

But the state didn’t began requiring registration until 1994, and while it is unknown how many firearms have left the state, it was estimated in the late 1990s that there were at least 1 million guns in Hawaii, which currently has a population of 1.4 million.

Only US citizens are allowed to own firearms in Hawaii.

The Attorney General’s report is available here.

Source: Firearm Registration in Hawaii, 2013.

Source: Firearm Registration in Hawaii, 2013.

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