From Hawaii Firearms Coalition, July 7, 2020
Honolulu Police Department is yet again showing it's incompetence when it comes to firearms. With thousands of firearms being sold since the pandemic started, many are finding it impossible to actually register them.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Honolulu Police Department forbade the public from registering firearms without an appointment. They set up a phone number for people to call to make these appointments and then refused to answer the calls. Some people reported calling more than 200 times to make an appointment.
Our sources in the department had informed us that most calls were just not answered, even when people were available to do so. They would not confirm if this was done at the request of higher-ups, but we suspect it was.
After almost a month of this antiquated system, the department switched to an online appointment system. The system quickly became overwhelmed with the department allocating 15+ minute time slots for 5-minute transactions. Thus, artificially creating a reduced availability of services at the firearms section.
As of writing this, the system only allows for people to make appointments up to 90 days in advance. This means that anyone wishing to obtain or register a firearm is unable to. The number of appointments available to the public is completely full. Every morning, hundreds of people try to access the website to get an appointment. This causes the system to freeze and crash, something reminiscent of the state's unemployment website in the early days of the pandemic.
In his 8th proclamation, Governor David Ige acknowledged this problem and allowed for the police departments to make policies that would exempt people from registering their firearms within the five-day limit set by law. HPD however, has refused to make this policy. Instead, they rely on an unofficial policy of telling people verbally (only if they ask) on what they can/should do.
Currently, the police department appears to be telling people that they must make an appointment after purchasing a firearm and must keep their firearm within their home until its registered. This contradicts Hawaii's law and contradicts the governor's proclamation.
The proclamation allowed them to make a policy for registering firearms. NOT limit where a person can take a legally owned firearm. Anyone who has been told this is not required to comply. They are able to take their firearm anywhere they are legally allowed, including hunting and to the firing range.
So to recap, Honolulu police department, though its own free will is:
- Refusing to register firearms within the required rime frame,
- Refusing to make public policy in compliance with the governor's proclamation,
- Refusing to reopen the police department using social distancing and masks (as allowed at both the state and city level)
- Using an online system that does not allow people to make appointments.
- Providing false information to people with regards to what they can do with their firearms whilst waiting to register.
All of this could be resolved by the state Attorney-general.
Hawaii firearms coalition director Todd Yukutake currently has a lawsuit open against the state with regards to taking a firearm to the police department to register it. Settling this lawsuit would resolve the issue and eliminate the need for the police department to see the firearm.
When you purchase a firearm in Hawaii, the law requires the seller of the firearm to notify the police that the firearm was sold and to whom. This information is all that I needed for the police to issue a registration form to the new owner. This system works great, and we know this because its the exact system used to register vehicles.
For some reason, the state and local police departments want to be able to inspect every firearm that is transferred. They claim its to make sure that the information provided is correct. Even tho the information often comes from a Federally licensed firearm dealer and the punishment for providing false/incorrect information is jail time.
As we have previously shown, the employees at the police department have very little training or experience with firearms and often make mistakes in the data they collect and how they interpret the law. If you ask 5 employees the same question, you are likely to get 5 different opinions.
The only reason we can think for the police departments not to go back to business as normal is to artificially keep the number of firearms that are able to be purchased and registered as low as possible. The country has seen a 300% increase in the number of firearms sold compared to last year, and in a couple of weeks, when the AG releases the data for June, we will see if Hawaii has followed that trend.
Registering your firearm, taking it to the police station, is still required, although it's highly likely in the near future, it won't be. Until then, we recommend people check to see if they can make an appointment to register. But if the system put in place doesn't allow it, then OH WELL. Not your fault.
Related: Settlement Improves Honolulu Gun Registration System