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HPD Revising Gun Carry Permits in Light of SCOTUS Decision

By Tom Hasslinger
July 19, 2022, 12:18 PM HST
* Updated July 19, 12:21 PM
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The Hawai‘i Police Department, like other departments around the state, is revising its permitting application process for people to carry firearms in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling on a landmark case out of New York.

The High Court’s 6-3 decision in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen on July 7 ruled that the state violated the complainants’ 14th Amendment right to carry a firearm for self-defense when it denied a pair of applicants their request.

The case centered around a person’s right to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense under the Constitution’s Second Amendment. The question presented was whether the state’s denial of the petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated their Second Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court ruled that it did.

The ruling states that “New York’s proper-cause requirement for obtaining an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” according to the High Court’s synopsis.

Sherwin Yamasaki, owner of Cold Country Ammo in Waimea, said he expects the number of people in his gun safety courses to triple in light of the recent Supreme Court. PC: Cold Country Ammo Instagram page
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The ruling will have effects nationwide.

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HPD Chief Paul Ferreira told Big Island Now that the local department is working alongside other county departments and the state’s Attorney General’s Office to revise their permitting process to ensure it is compliant with the SCOTUS decision.

“We have been working with the other county police departments in concert with the Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General and our respective county attorneys in revising the firearms application to carry and the permitting process to be compliant with the Bruen decision,” Ferreira said in an email. “We do anticipate that we will be completed with the revisions within the next several weeks and will keep the public informed.”

Other police departments across the state have informed the public they are doing the same.

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The Kaua‘i Police Department stated in a news release Thursday, July 14 that it anticipates the revised firearms application to carry will be available to the public on the Garden Isle within the next 30 days. The public will be notified as soon as the new firearms application to carry permit process is completed. Persons wishing to apply for a permit to carry will be required to submit an application on the revised firearms application for review and consideration.

The department has received dozens of inquiries regarding applications to carry a firearm, however no permits in response to the Bruen decision have been issued at this time, KPD stated.

Gun and ammo stores on the Big Island have received dozens – if not more – inquiries as well.

Sherwin Yamasaki, owner of Cold Country Ammo in Waimea, said he started receiving calls the second the decision came down.

“My personal cellphone started ringing at 3:30, 4 in the morning,” the shop owner of four years said.

It has been a nonstop flood of people asking how they can obtain permits now that the law is changing. He said he tells prospective permit applicants to hold off applying until the county clarifies what its process will be. Yamasaki is an adamant proponent that people should take gun safety classes and arm themselves with as much knowledge and responsibility as they can if they want to be a gun owner, he said. Gun safety courses could be a part of the application requirement, but even if they are not, he recommended all gun owners educate themselves.

“They feel a little bit safer now,” he said of people coming to his store asking how to start the process of obtaining a carry permit.

From a business perspective, he said he expects a major impact.

“My training will probably triple again,” he said of the gun safety courses his business offers. Again, because his gun course training already tripled in turnout at the beginning of the pandemic when people were worried of what the future had in store when everything shut down, which was uncharted territory for the country.

Before the pandemic, each course had about seven to 10 people. Now each class boasts around 30, he said. He expects another swell of numbers.

“I’m excited,” he said.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. Bruen was brought on behalf of Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, two men in Rensselaer County, near Albany, who objected to a rule that allowed local officials a degree of discretion in deciding who qualified for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public, a New Yorker article on the ruling published June 24 explained.

“Both men had applied for concealed-carry licenses and been denied because local officials determined that neither had demonstrated ‘proper cause’ for needing the license for self-defense,” the article stated.

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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