Federal Court Decision: Parts of Hawaii Gun Registration Law are Unconstitutional
by Dean Weingarten Ammoland Inc. August 30, 2021
On 16 August 2021, in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, Judge J. Michael Seabright granted a motion for summary judgment for the plaintiffs. The two disputed parts of the State of Hawaii’s registration law are unconstitutional in violation of the Second Amendment. From the decision:
HRS § 134-2(e)’s requirement that “[p]ermits issued to acquire any pistol or revolver shall be void unless used within ten days after the date of issue” is declared unconstitutional in violation of the Second Amendment. Defendant’s officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with Defendant are permanently enjoined from enforcing HRS § 134-2(e)’s 10-day permit use requirement for handguns. To be clear, no other language in HRS § 134-2(e) is found unconstitutional.
HRS § 134-3(c)’s requirement that, with the exception of certain licensed dealers, “[a]ll other firearms and firearm receivers registered under [HRS § 134] shall be physically inspected by the respective county chief of police or the ch ief’s representative at the time of registration” is unconstitutional in violation of the Second Amendment. Defendant’s officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with Defendant are permanently enjoined from enforcing HRS § 134-3(c)’s in-person firearm inspection and registration requirement. To be clear, no other language in HRS § 134-3(c) is found unconstitutional.
The order of summary judgment will not take effect until 15 September 2021. It is possible an injunction against the judgment will be issued by the Ninth Circuit before then.
To those who say the judge should have struck down the entire law as unconstitutional, the entire law was not challenged. A judge should not issue rulings about things that are not at issue in the case at hand. To do so is to make judges into mini-dictators.
This case, Yukutake v. Hawaii, is an extension of a case filed against the City and County of Hawaii, on 24 October 2019, which enforced a policy of the limited time to use a permit to acquire a handgun and required in-person inspection at the police department to register the handgun. The case was settled with increased hours for the Firearms Unit and the elimination of the in person inspection requirement.
A month later, the State of Hawaii passed a statute requiring the 10-day limit to use the permit to acquire, an in-person inspection for registration.
The statute effectively nullified the settlement made the previous month.
Yukutake v. Hawaii, the lawsuit challenging the statutory change, was filed on 30 October 2020. The case was immediately stayed and administratively closed pending the outcome of the en banc decision in the Ninth Circuit, of Young v. Hawaii.
The outcome of Young could easily affect the case. It made sense to wait for the decision on Young.
The en banc decision on Young was published on 24 March 2021. Yukutake v. Hawaii was reopened the next day, on 25 March 2021. Plaintiffs filed for summary judgment on 28 April 2021, followed by a counter-motion for summary judgment by the State of Hawaii on 28 May.
Summary judgment generally means the case is so clear cut and obvious the judge can rule on it immediately. With countering requests for summary judgment, the judge has to explain why they chose one over the other or decided to dismiss both.
In Yukutake, Judge Seabright explains why, even under the twisted and highly limited rules the Ninth Circuit has adopted for interpretation of the Second Amendment, the two new statutory requirements are in violation of the Second Amendment.
The judge uses “intermediate scrutiny” as part of the Ninth Circuit procedure in Second Amendment cases.
Here is the logic, simplified for a short article:
The two requirements are not longstanding. The statute was passed in 2019, so this may seem obvious. The judge goes into great detail to refute arguments about similarity to other laws.
The requirements burden the core right of the Second Amendment.
The State presented no evidence the requirements had any relationship to public safety, other than opinion.
The mere opinion is not enough to justify a burden on the Second Amendment, even if the burden is not severe.
The refreshing part of this ruling is Judge Seabright does his job and follows the rules. In other cases, judges have used the Ninth circuit rules to gut any Second Amendment rights. They collapsed “intermediate scrutiny’ into “rational basis”, which is, essentially, no scrutiny.
Judge Seabright says the opinion of government officials is not enough. You have to have more to justify regulating the exercise of the Second Amendment. A state has to show actual evidence the regulation will be effective.
The State of Hawaii did not have any evidence, because no evidence exists.
For most of 80 years, Progressive judges have ruled by personal opinion and prejudice.
This case is part of a return back to the rule of law.