Lawmakers continue to hammer out details on public firearms ban
by Merrilee Gasser, The Center Square contributor, April 13, 2023
(The Center Square) - The Hawaii Senate on Thursday rejected changes made by the House on a bill that would ban firearms in certain public places.
House lawmakers amended Senate Bill 1230 to include some of the language in House Bill 984, a similar measure that passed the House.
The bills list "sensitive places" where firearms would not be allowed. They include county buildings, hospitals, nursing homes, bars or restaurants that serve alcohol, stadiums, movie theaters, concert halls, public libraries, schools and colleges.
Attorney General Anne Lopez's office supports the bill and noted the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which they said would lead to many more people applying for gun permits.
"Gun violence presents an urgent public-health issue, and even after the Supreme Court's decision in Bruen, there are still a number of important tools available to address the serious and increasing risks posed by firearms and gun violence. States have the authority to enact "a 'variety' of gun regulations, such as prohibiting the carrying of firearms in sensitive locations and adopting laws to ensure that those who carry firearms are 'law-abiding, responsible citizens,'" the attorney general's office said in written testimony.
Others in law enforcement have voiced concerns about the difficulty of enforcing certain aspects of the bill, including the Honolulu Police Department, which said some sections were "too broad."
Meanwhile, advocates for gun rights have outright opposed the bill, calling it "overly burdensome" and "unconstitutional."
"This bill and others like it should not and cannot move forward before a full historical analysis is made to ascertain their constitutionality using the text history and traditions guidelines provided by the Supreme Court," said Hawaii Firearms Coalition Director Andrew Namiki Roberts.
Senate President Ronald Kouchi said members of the conference committee would be named at a later date.