Owning a firearm in Hawaii is about to get more expensive, raising concerns for financially insecure individuals.
by Andrew Namiki Roberts, HiFiCo, May 27, 2023
Recently, state legislators proposed a bill that, if passed, would increase the costs associated with obtaining and carrying a firearm for self-defense. The bill introduces several provisions that significantly impact the financial costs of owning and carrying firearms in Hawaii. One such provision is the implementation of fees for each permit application, which currently stands at $47.50. Additionally, the bill calls for repetitive training and increased fees for applications related to carrying concealed weapons (CCW).
For individuals seeking to acquire and carry firearms for the first time, the financial burden is substantial, with the estimated total cost exceeding $1000, encompassing various mandatory requirements. To begin, they must enroll in a basic handgun class, which costs around $200. Furthermore, purchasing a handgun itself entails a considerable expense ranging from $500 to $800. Additional costs include ammunition ($100) and a holster ($50). As part of the process, individuals must also submit an application for a permit to the police department, costing $47.50. Upon legal ownership of a firearm, they are then obligated to complete a concealed carry class ($250-$300), followed by an application for a concealed carry license costing $150.
Importantly, these expenses are not one-time payments. Individuals who wish to purchase additional firearms are required to repeat the handgun training every four years. Similarly, the concealed carry class and license fee must be paid on the same four-year cycle.
The high costs included in the bill will disproportionately affect Hawaii's working class, who are already struggling to make ends meet.
According to recent statistics, Hawaii has a significant number of low-income households, further magnifying the challenges posed by gun control laws. The state's Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism reported that approximately 17.6% of households in Hawaii fall below the federal poverty line, significantly higher than the national average.
Hawaii consistently ranks among the most expensive places to reside in the United States. Housing, groceries, and utilities are considerably pricier in Hawaii compared to the mainland. As a result, lower-income individuals in Hawaii already face financial difficulties, making it even more challenging to afford the costs associated with legally obtaining firearms.
Often, financially vulnerable individuals in Hawaii reside in neighborhoods with higher crime rates or security challenges. However, the increased financial barriers created by gun control measures restrict their ability to acquire firearms legally, potentially leaving them more vulnerable to criminals who obtain firearms through illegal means.
Moreover, the criminalization of non-compliance with gun control laws poses additional challenges for lower-income individuals in Hawaii. Navigating complex legal processes and covering the associated costs can be daunting for those already facing financial constraints. Inadvertently failing to comply with these regulations may lead to legal penalties or charges, exacerbating the burdens faced by marginalized communities.
Balancing public safety with the rights of individuals, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances, remains a complex challenge. However, using high costs to price out the most vulnerable is not a path the state should pursue.
Many of these points were raised to legislators during the bill's passage but fell on deaf ears, as legislators were solely focused on pushing for the most burdensome bill they believed they could pass.
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