UPDATE: Case Settled
From Attorney Alan Beck, July 15, 2019
We have reached a settlement in our resident alien handgun carry case. The State has conceded that its law is unconstitutional as applied to my client and that we are the prevailing party for purposes of 1988 fees.
I will post the stipulation when it is filed by the Court….
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by Andrew Walden
Representing Honolulu photographer and Second Amendment activist Andrew Namiki Roberts, a British citizen, attorneys Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh, April 2, 2019, filed Case 1:19-cv-00165 in Honolulu Federal Court, seeking to overturn Hawaii’s absolute ban on gun permits for legal immigrant Green Card holders.
Here are some highlights from the complaint:
8. Plaintiff desires to apply for a concealed or unconcealed handgun permit which would enable him to defend himself in the State of Hawaii.
9. Plaintiff is a law-abiding permanent resident of the State of Hawaii and has no disqualifying factor which would prohibit him from legally and safely carrying his firearm outside of his home. But because Plaintiff is not a citizen of the United States of America, he cannot even apply for a permit to carry a firearm.
10. H.R.S. § 134-9(a) states in pertinent part: “[i]n an exceptional case, when an applicant shows reason to fear injury to the applicant's person or property, the chief of police of the appropriate county may grant a license to an applicant who is a citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one years or more or to a duly accredited official representative of a foreign nation of the age of twenty-one years or more to carry a pistol or revolver and ammunition therefor concealed on the person within the county where the license is granted.” (emphasis added).
11. As such, because Plaintiff is not a citizen of the United States of America, the chief of police of Honolulu has no discretion in which to even allow the Plaintiff to apply for a permit. Hawaii state law completely forbids anyone who is not a citizen of the United States of America from even applying because the chief of police cannot grant a license to a non-citizen.
12. Plaintiff has refrained from carrying a firearm, either openly or concealed, in the State of Hawaii because he fears arrest, prosecution, fines and imprisonment if he were to do so because it is unlawful for a non-citizen to receive a license to carry a handgun in the State of Hawaii.
13. Due to Hawaii licensing both open and concealed permits to carry, Plaintiff cannot open or conceal carry without a license to do so.
14. On November 30, 2018, Plaintiff went to Honolulu Police Department and inquired about applying for a permit to carry openly or concealed. He volunteered that he was not a United States citizen and was subsequently not allowed to apply for a permit to carry. As such, Plaintiff’s attempt to apply for a permit, either openly or concealed, was denied.
15. A controversy exists as to whether the citizenship requirement contained in HRS 134-9(a) is unconstitutional.
16. There is no adequate remedy at law because only a declaration that HRS 134-9(a) is unconstitutional, as opposed to money damages, would allow Plaintiff as a lawfully admitted alien the opportunity to apply for a permit to carry a handgun in a concealed or open manner for self-defense.
18. The citizenship requirement in HRS 134-9(a), and all other Hawaii statutory language, which restrict lawfully admitted aliens the rights and privileges of carrying firearms based on citizenship, on their face and as-applied, are unconstitutional denials of equal protection of the laws are in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that judgment be entered in his favor and against Defendants as follows:
1. An order preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the injunction, from enforcing HI Rev Stat § 134-9(a)’s citizenship requirement for legal aliens;
2. An order declaring that HI Rev Stat § 134-9(a) is unconstitutional and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution;
3. An order declaring HI Rev Stat § 134-9(a)’s citizenship requirement unenforceable;
4. Costs of suit, including attorney fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1988….
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LEGAL RESIDENT ALIEN SUES STATE OF HAWAII OVER STATE CARRY LAW
British Citizen Says Hawaii's Law Prevents Legal Immigrants From Carrying Firearms For Self Defense and is Unconstitutional
News Release from HiFiCo, April 2, 2019
Honolulu, Hawaii – Lawyers, Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh filed a lawsuit in the Hawaii Federal District Court today, on behalf of Hawaii Firearms Coalition Director, Andrew Namiki Roberts. Mr. Roberts is a lawful permanent resident of the United States and has been since 2007. He lives full time in the state of Hawaii.
Mr. Roberts wishes to carry a firearm for self defense. In order to do so, he must apply with the Honolulu Police Department for a license to carry a firearm. Hawaii's law prevents him from doing so because it requires that all applicants must be a citizen of the United States of America.
HRS 134-9 Licenses to carry reads “the chief of police of the appropriate county may grant a license to an applicant who is a citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one years or more “
Since Mr. Roberts is not a citizen, he is unable to apply for a license to carry a firearm. This is solely based on his immigration status. Mr. Roberts argues that Hawaii's laws are unconstitutional and are in conflict with the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment.
Mr. Roberts is no stranger to the constitutionality of Hawaii's firearms laws. He has previously and successfully filled a lawsuit in 2015 against the Honolulu Police Department for a discriminatory policy that effected legal permanent aliens. Mr. Roberts also filled a lawsuit against the State of Hawaii last year, challenging the state's ban on electric arms (Tasers).
Andrew Namiki Roberts is a director for the Hawaii Firearms Coalition a non profit organization that advocates and fights to protect the second amendment and the right to bear arms in the state of Hawaii.
KGI: Legal alien sues for right to carry firearm
AP: Legal Foreign Resident Sues Hawaiʻi Over Gun License Laws
Related: Second Amendment Coverage