BY DR. MAX COOPER– Senate Bill 69, now metamorphosed into its second Hawaii Senate draft, has passed the Senate and is scheduled for its first of three committee hearings in the House, 9:30 am March 14, 2013, in the House Public Safety Committee (PBS), Chaired by Rep. Henry Aquino.
HRA supports it but does recommend an amendment. NRA however opposes it and has advised its members to send testimony in opposition.
The bill, authored by Sen. WILL ESPERO and his anti-gun colleagues SENS. BAKER, GALUTERIA, and GREEN in the Senate Public Safety Committee, started out as a terribly anti-gun bill.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee adopted recommendations favorable to law-abiding HI gun owners by Chair David Ige, and gutted the anti-gun provisions. They approved language authorizing the county police to do telephonic (NICS National Instant Check System) checks on owners bringing in guns from out of state, and charge the floating fingerprint fee, currently $16.50, which the PD’s pass on from FBI.
The 3-day window for registering is increased to 5 days, compatible with in-state acquisition. The county PD’s are already doing NICS checks on bring-in firearms, and universal registration is existing state law. HRA supports instant background checks. Some felons actually try to register guns. The current bill language overlooks HRA’s previous testimony and still says the Chief of Police “may” waive the fingerprinting for registrants with prints on file. HRA will ask for an amendment removing any discretion. Fingerprints don’t change. The fee should be one time only.
There is a risk to passing an amended bill. It will go to two more committees in the House, including anti-gun Rep. Karl Rhoads’ Judiciary Committee, and Finance, leaving opportunity to add anti-gun amendments. It is the only gun bill left alive this session as a vehicle for anti-gun provisions. If it passes the House, it will go to conference committee where Senate and House committee Chairs bargain over its provisions. Sen. Will Espero has already announced that he hopes to add his versions of restrictive gun control back into it. HRA will ask supportive Legislators to kill the bill if that develops.
A big mahalo to all you activists who support our gun rights during this difficult legislative session. Don’t let up before it’s over, May 2! Dead bills can be resurrected and all bills introduced this year are alive next year.
Dr Maxwell Cooper is the legislative liaso of the HRA Legislative Liaison