Hawaii Gun Permits Jump Record 70 Percent, Violence Falls Again

Ed Masaki is one of Hawaii's firearms owners
Ed Masaki is one of Hawaii’s firearms owners

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN– Hawaii firearms registrations shot up more than 70 percent in 2012, while gun violence continued a four-year decline, according to a new state Department of the Attorney General report.

“While there has been a tremendous increase in firearm registration activity in Hawaii since 2000, the annual trends for both the number of firearm-related violent crimes and the proportion of violent crimes involving firearms relative to other weapon types remained stable within a low and narrow range through 2007, and decreased substantially from 2008 through 2012, during which time registration activity increased the most sharply,” the Department of the Attorney concluded.

Officials processed a record 21,864 state and county firearm permits in 2012, the report found. One year before, that number was 15,375.

Hawaii law allows multiple long guns to be registered under one permit. That brought the total number of firearms registered in 2012 to 50,394, a 73 percent increase from the previous record high of 36,804 firearms registered in 2011.

Alan Gottlieb, spokesperson for the Second Amendment Foundation, said Hawaii’s increase in firearms permits mirrors what is happening all across the country.

“Gun and ammunition sales as well as the number of permits to carry firearms has exploded. This happens every time there is a move to restrict or ban firearms like we are seeing today,” Gottlieb said.

Some 94.1 percent of those who applied for a permit were issued one. Another 4.9 percent had permits approved but voided after failing to return on time to pick them up. Just 1 percent were actually disqualified.

Over half or 127 of the denials last year were due to applicants’ prior criminal convictions, 25 were due to pending charges, and 75 were not based on the criminal histories of the applicants.

An estimated 23,548 or 46.7 percent of the firearms registered during 2012 were imported, with the remainder of 26,846, or 53.3 percent from transfers of firearms already registered here, the AG report said.

Over the last 13 years, from 2000 through 2012, state statistics show a continuous rise in firearms ownership. Statewide permit applications processed annually climbed 336.9 percent, while the number of firearms registered soared by 370.1 percent, and firearms imported climbed 325 percent. County permit applications followed the same trend, the report said.

“Our Hawaii rate of denial of permits 1 percent,  lower than other states which are at 1.8 to 2.5 percent, indicates our Hawaii law-abiding gun owners are just that,” said Dr. Max Cooper, the legislative liaison for the Hawaii Rifle Association. “A small group of criminals still try to get a permit or register, about 200 per year, with only some arrests and prosecutions, although a felony is committed in a police station with signatures of the criminals to prove it, so we need better enforcement.”

“I wonder how many of those 200 people were prosecuted by the police for the felony they committed when they falsified their personal information? What is the purpose of passing even more laws when the current ones are not enforced? HRA has been on record for many years saying that we need more enforcement of our existing laws, not new ones.The presumed lack of prosecution of those 200 people a year that perjure themselves on the gun registration forms seem to suggest we’ve been right all along,” Cooper added.

Hawaii has among the strictest firearms laws in the nation. However, there are likely more firearms in the state than its 1.3 million residents.

Paul Perrone, Chief of Research & Statistics for the attorney general’s office, said there were about 1.5 million firearms in Hawaii in the 1990s and while there is not an exact count now, the number has continued to increase substantially.

Hawaii does have a concealed carry law, however it allows the four county police chiefs to decide if they “shall issue” a concealed carry permit.

That’s an extremely rare occurrence, gun-rights advocates maintain.

Those trying to register their firearms and obtain a permit wait hours in line at police headquarters

“Four private citizens applied for a concealed carry license in the City & County of Honolulu, and one applied in Maui County, and all five were denied at the discretion of the respective county police chief. Some 168 employees of private security firms were issued carry licenses while two were denied,” the report said.

To become a registered gun owner in Hawaii takes patience and commitment, according to Cooper.

On Oahu, there is just one location to obtain a firearms permit – at the Honolulu Police Department’s main station — and firearms owners have told Hawaii Reporter they have waited as many as nine hours in line just to fill out or turn in paperwork.

To register a handgun, Hawaii law dictate firearms owners must return to the station three times and to the store where they bought the handgun twice. Some people have opted to wait in line from midnight until the station opens its doors. The Hawaii Rifle Association has launched an online petition to ask the city council to add additional locations and staffing for permit processing.

“Only six to eight officers and employees are available to staff the Honolulu Beretania St. firearms desk, during shortened business hours only, and only one person each for the other counties. The police officers and civilian employees are working as hard as they can, but the public is under-served,” Cooper said.

Similarly, Hawaii has limited places for firearms owners to practice shooting. For the island of Hawaii, lawmakers are considering appropriations for a new rifle and pistol range in Kona. Cooper said he hopes funding will be approved since the Big Island has no public range.

Kauai county also lacks any public rifle and pistol ranges, Cooper said. He said Oahu’s only range, Koko Head Range Complex, has likewise suffered from budget cuts and needs repairs and capital improvements. Because of heavy use, Oahu also needs a second range, Cooper said.

Cooper said the dramatic upswing in gun ownership points to the urgent need for more ranges.

“This is the only aspect of the criminal justice and public safety systems that has seen this kind of increase in activity, and range availability and development and county registration and permits capacity is paradoxically absent or reduced,” Cooper said.

Read the full report from the AG’s Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division at http://ag.hawaii.gov/cpja/rs/


Firearm Registration Activity, State of Hawaii and Counties, 2012




  1. Hi Malia. Once upon a time, the male spent 99% of his time chasing females. Once the use of his personal weapon became easy, the male needs for a new challenge led to things that go BANG in the night. Equals rights allows the chased to become the chaser and the need for a weapon is equal to/or even better is readily apparent (photo shows chasers and chasees.) Macho meaning has changed to a person vs "man." Who knows what the future holds (Eh – the Shadow knows.)

  2. […] Hawaii Gun Permits Jump Record 70 Percent, Violence Falls AgainHawaii ReporterOfficials processed a record 21,864 state and county firearm permits in 2012, the report found. One year before, that number was 15,375. Hawaii law allows multiple long guns to be registered under one permit. That brought the total number of firearms …Firearm sales rising in HawaiiKHON2 […]

  3. The National Rifle Association has convinced Congress that owning more guns is the only solution to mass killings in the United States. Why didn't I think of that!

    • So, we have more guns and less crime. In Chicago, Washington DC they have almost no guns (except the ones the criminals have…) and a huge gun crime and violence problem.

      So what's your solution if you disagree with the NRA's perspective?

      • I was talking about mass killings. With millions of guns all over the US, the opportunities for deranged killers to get them is increasing. We cannot identify them before they begin shooting, and neither can we predict the winners of gunfights.

      • There are no guarantees in life, so you're right in that we cannot predict the winners of gun fights.Likewise the government cannot guarantee anyone's safety, nor are they legally required to protect anyone. However, I see instances every week of regular citizens defending themselves with guns, many times without firing a shot. And despite what the MSM and the gun ban proponents have been trying to tell you, the rate of mass killings has not changed appreciably over the last 20-30 years. So, in the name of "safety" gun banners want to ban a medium caliber "evil black rifle", a type of gun which is an undetermined fraction of of the 2% of all gun crimes caused by all rifles, and try to ban them. Saying the guns are not suitable for personal self defense, yet ordering them by the thousands for their own government agencies, citing the rifles various characteristics as ideal for "personal defense weapons." Hard to claim they are good for nothing but battlefield use and then order them saying they're great for personal defense for "their" officers. Sort of like calling them "assualt weapons" if I own one, but calling it a "patrol rifle" in the hands of LE……

      • You just need to learn to live with what you have. No way are you going to rid this country of guns. Just not going to happen. So why do you people keep harping on this? No one is ever going to take away my right to defend myself, not you, not anyone.

    • We all know that from your statement, your response to a armed intruder is to grab your ankles and cross your fingers. Some people think that isn't an effective form of defence till the police arrive (which are usually minutes away, if your phone doesn't fail you).

      But your free to pursue that line of defence. I'm just sick of low information voters like you telling me how how should defend my self and family.

      • You let an axe murder come in on one of these. "I don't like guns" people and see how fast they will pull the trigger if you hand them one.

      • Criminals will be criminals until you shove a gun in their face or until they know you are packing one. If every one packed a gun the crime rate would drop to near zero and that is a fact. Plus some of these mass shooters would not get three shots off before some one drilled them. But there is no way you will ever convince a liberal of this.

  4. I have a carry permit but I will not renew it when it comes due. I will just carry period under the second amendment. Carry permits are against my second amendment rights. Just away for counties and states to collect money. Last time I got my carry permit it cost me over $100 and took two weeks to get. I said then, enough is enough. If I get caught I'm going to court and I'm going to push it just as far as I can. It is time we stop this crazy and take back our second amendment rights.

  5. @Jim Growney, we don't need to be in the "predicting who will go crazy business" since it is impossible anyway. But even deranged killers know where to go to make a big splash killing kids in a school or patrons in a theater. Those were so-called "Gun Free Zones" which is just another name for criminal safe zones because all the law-abiding types that could actually stop a deranged killer have been DISARMED. So the solution IS more guns and specifically allowing more guns in the currently stupid gun free zones in which only criminals have guns. Guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens restrains criminal activity, this has been proven over & over and we need to get the idea that more guns = crime out of here and do away with all gun free zones such as in schools and bars, etc. I will not allow my kids to become a target by being at a school that is a "gun free zone."

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