Hawaii: Gun-carry ban legitimate because it’s century old

By Bob Unruh


Hawaii is arguing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that its ban on the open carry of firearms is constitutional because it’s been around so long.

But Gun Owners of America, GOA has filed a friend-of-the-court brief pointing out that for most of the century and a half of the law’s existence, Hawaii either was a monarchy or a constitutional monarchy.

The brief argues Hawaii’s claim to be in a similar situation as New Jersey in a previous case fails, because New Jersey has been a state for 231 years and was a colony before that.

The dispute is between George K. Young Jr., who is challenging the state’s latest version of a ban on the public carry of weapons, and the state.

A panel at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the state, and officials petitioned for another hearing.

Lawyers Herbert Titus, Robert J. Olson, William J. Olson and others with William J. Olson P.C. filed a brief on behalf of Gun Owners of America, the Heller Foundation, Virginia Citizens Defense League, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund and others opposing the state’s demand for another hearing.

“Hawaii’s petition for rehearing triumphantly declares that ‘Hawaii has regulated the public carry of firearms for over 150 years,’ pointing to various enactments in 1852, 1927, and 1934,” the brief explains.

The state argues such restrictions have been widespread and longstanding.

“This is quite an assertion. … For most of Hawaii’s history, the island nation had no republican form of government – rather, it was a monarchy, ruled by kings and queens. Even after later transitioning to a constitutional monarchy, the Kingdom of Hawaii Constitution of 1940 did not recognize a right of the people to bear arms.”

“The Hawaii stranglehold on arms was easy to accomplish, since native Hawaiians had no experience with firearms prior to the arrival of Europeans in the late 1700s. Indeed, traders and settlers selectively doled out firearms in order to ‘unite Hawaii’s eight main islands into a single kingdom [under] Kamehameha 1.’

“This is hardly a noble pedigree to apply when determining the right of a sovereign people to keep and bear arms as a bulwark against tyranny,” the brief explains.

Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1898 and a state in 1959.

“Hawaii’s antiquated firearms regulatory scheme should be rejected out of hand – a relic of history, not unlike the sovereign prerogatives of King George, against which this country’s Second Amendment was designed to protect,” the groups argue.

The groups point out the Second Amendment states the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.”

And they note that the U.S. Supreme Court already has affirmed the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.

The Second Amendment Foundation also has opposed Hawaii’s petition.

“The 9th Circuit panel ruling was proper recognition that the right to bear arms extends beyond the confines of someone’s home,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Clearly, anti-gunners in Hawaii do not want that to stand, so they’ve requested an en banc hearing before a full panel.

“This case is one of many in recent years that looks at the carrying of firearms in public for personal protection,” he continued. “It is of great interest to SAF members and supporters all over the country, because the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no less a right than any of the other rights enumerated and protected by the Bill of Rights. After all, nobody would argue that a citizen’s First, Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights stop at the front door of their home.”

The Hawaii Firearms Coalition also pointed out that the state’s vast rural land areas create regions that have dangers, yet police response times are measured in hours, not minutes.

They said that means the safety of one’s family and friends is up to the individual.

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