Hawaii Government Sued Over Restrictive Firearms Laws


The non-profit Hawaii Defense Foundation president Christopher Baker has filed a lawsuit against the Honolulu Chief of Police Louis Kealoha, the Honolulu Police Department and the City & County of Honolulu as well as the State of Hawaii and Gov. Neil Abercrombie for violating the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

The complaint, which was filed in Hawaii’s U.S. District Court by attorneys Richard Holcomb, Alan Beck and Kevin O’Grady, argues that Hawaii’s license to carry firearms statute as well as Hawaii’s other firearm regulations, are unconstitutional.

Michelle Yu, spokesperson for the Honolulu Police Department, said the chief has no comment on the lawsuit.

Hawaii has some of the most restrictive gun policies in the country.

Hawaii is a “may issue” rather than “shall issue” state, which means that police chiefs that provide concealed and open carry firearms permits may issue them at will. This is different that shall issue states, where the government must provide concealed carry permits so long as the applicant passes all background checks and has no history of mental illness.

A total of 49 states have a concealed carry law with Illinois being the exception. Illinois has banned carrying of all concealed weapons including guns and knives. Wisconsin changed its law in July 2011 to allow concealed carry.

Baker said licenses to carry in Hawaii are only issued in “exceptional circumstance” or “where a need or urgency has been sufficiently indicated.”

This language violates the Second Amendment, which secures the right of all responsible, law-abiding citizens to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense, he said.

The lawsuit also claims that the state’s bad on non-lethal tools for self-defense such as electric guns is a violation of civil rights.

“The Second Amendment protects the right to self-defense. Everyday around the islands good people are robbed, assaulted, raped, or in the worst cases murdered. It’s simply a matter of physics, the Police can’t be everywhere to stop criminals from committing violent acts. We must be allowed to carry the tools that give us a chance to protect ourselves from harm,” Baker said. “We want criminals to have to think about the consequences of attacking someone,” he continued, “but right now, nothing serves as a deterrent to them – the odds are in their favor.”

The foundation, which was established as a mechanism to defend civil rights and offer educational courses on firearm safety, self-defense training, and life saving techniques, has launched a fundraising effort to support the litigation.

More information on the web (www.TheHDF.org).




  1. Kudos to the brave young folks who are spearheading this effort to force Hawaii to acknowledge the foundational human right to self defense. It takes an unfathomable amount of time and energy, not to mention financial resources, to bring something like this off. If you’re a supporter, you might consider a donation to HDF, as this fight is not likely to end here…

  2. Would you rather be the next person beaten to death at a bus stop for no reason at all? Are you so confident in your mma jiu-jitsu tae-bo, that you know you can stop someone half your age and high on meth from stabbing you with a screwdriver?

  3. It is about TIME. I am so tired of the “buddy-buddy system” as well as the “who you know” to get what you want. Hawai’i is a “May issue” state which in my opinion that means a “May uphold the Constitution” state or “May ALLOW citizens to have rights” state. I can imagine who MAY have been issued a permit – Perhaps, the chiefs entire family. Why? To ensure THEIR safety and capability to defend themselves. Unfortunately, for the rest of us who want to carry and embrace our constitutional RIGHTS to protect ourselves and OUR families. As stated, the citizens that want to carry have to undergo background checks of every aspect to ensure we will not use our firearm outside of anything that is a life or death situation. Mental Health, background check and whatever else they so choose to research, but MOST IMPORTANTLY have proof that we have taken a Firearm Safety Training course. Not only that but in other states you are less likely to be raped, horribly beaten, robbed, etc. due to the fact that the majority of criminals never know if you carry or not. The one’s throwing around terms such as who has the power in the situation MIGHT want to think about the situation as a whole, and why power (for better words, who has the upper hand) in any situation would matter and what was the cause. This instance is typically spoken by ones that WILL try to harm or steal from you if they can- however if I was carrying my firearm their POWER and PLANS of doing so would be intercepted and the criminal action wouldn’t have occurred. To me, the person carrying didn’t have POWER, they had protection. Those that do have permits to own are REGISTERED in the individual’s name. That being said, WHY would anyone misuse or abuse their firearm/weapon knowing it would be traced directly back to them? Highly unlikely and an ignorant statement to say the least. WHY would a criminal, sex offender or drug addict use their firearm for POWER to rob you, rape you or brutally beat you? Because they CAN and obviously if a gun is involved I’m quite sure it isn’t registered or if it is registered, it’s not registered to THEM. I don’t see how HPD cannot see the obvious. When it comes to the example of tempers flaring or arguments which would cause an increase in injuries or deaths if Concealed Carry were implemented makes absolutely NO SENSE, if someone has THAT bad of a temper, they wouldn’t pass the Mental Health Check OR the Criminal background check much less both. Individuals such as these are THE obvious threat to our innocent law-abiding citizens. It is bad enough if one person attacks you, but doesn’t ever seem the case. There are too many gangs out there and it’s never one on one, its victim vs 10 others. I am a single mother and I am the protector of my family. I feel like my constitutional rights to protect my family has been taken away from me; and if something WERE to happen to my family that could have ended differently because I was LEGALLY carrying my firearm – that’s just sad for the State of Hawai’i. People will and can state the “What-if’s” all day long, but the time wasted thinking about that should be researching the states that do have Concealed or Open Carry into effect and the positive statistics – that may answer some of their “What if” questions. As stated previously this is long overdue. I’m tired of living in fear.

  4. In most states within the continental United State, Hawaii in the gun world is known as the “communist state” for allowing a very few to dictate how we will “will not” protect ourselves & our families. Asking why we the people of Hawaii have not band together and fight for our Constitutional Rights, thus becoming a “REAL DEMOCRACY”.

  5. The firearm laws in Hawaii are ridiculous. The whole reason the 2nd amendment was created in the first place was to allow the citizens to protect ourselves from a rogue government and to defend ourselves when needed. Having to register all of our firearms with the police station is b.s. The Chief of Police deciding who gets to carry a concealed weapon is and can lead to abuse of power. This obviously is the case as no CCW permits have been issued. It is our right to have, own, carry firearms as long as you pass a criminal background check and do not have mental illness. The fact that the police Chief's have chosen not to issue any CCW's is an abuse of power, Coming from a state (s) where firearm ownership is less intrusive, crime rates have actually went down in those states. To make a citizen go to the police station multiple times in order to acquire a firearm is ridiculous. I hope that Dec 6 will again show these police what the law really is. On Maui, there have been many instances of late confirming that law enforcement officers do no know the law. Look up Tommy Russo. We are entrusting our right to own and carry a firearm to agencies that do not know the law, abuse their power and bully their citizens. These intrusive firearms laws should never have been passed to begin with.

    • I agree!!!! The US Constitution does not state we have a right to BEAR arms, as long as the police chief thinks it is okay!!!!!! I say we carry without permits and sue for false arrest!!!!! We have a right to KEEP and BEAR arms…period!!! No government body, including the US Supreme Court can take that from us!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Hawaii does allow to bear and purchase without license firearms of the type that were around when the constitution was written. I have strong faith in the founding fathers' wisdom, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have written the law as is if they had even dreamt of the type of monstrous killing machines we now have around. I guess Hawaii is quite constitutional, after all.

    • I think you've got a great point. What's more, the whole Bill of Rights should only apply to late 18th-century technology; meaning the First Amendment should only be exercised via a hand-cranked printing press, and shouting in the fucking street. After all, the founders wouldn't have written the law if they had dreamt of the monstrous communication machines we have now.

    • People had blunderbuss and some even had cannons and ships with cannons private people had them not just the government … Yes they did dream of things that could kill many people………. Grow up pall that's why it said ARMS NOT just muskets.

    • First of all, constitutional rights do not change with technology!!!! Secondly, the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with the types of weapons. It is based solely on the people defending themselves against out of control government. You claim they wouldn't have gave us our rights if they had the foresight to see the types of weapons of today. However, I would imaging that had they had the foresight to predict the government we have today, they would have given us even more rights and power!!!!!!!! Government has become more dangerous than ANY weapon in the hands of law-abiding citizens!!!!!!

  7. Hawaiian restrictive gun laws are unconstitutional and therefore illegal. I for one have been asleep on my watch but the over reaching federal government has wakened me. It is time to protect and defend the constitution of the United States. Hawaii needs non-discretionary conceal and carry legislation. Hawaii should repeal School Gun Free Zones. Magazine restrictions should be repealed. Every law abiding citizen has the right to the same weapons carried by the U S military, national guard and local police. That is the intent and binding meaning of the 2nd Amendment. It is time to stand up for those rights and put people in office that will fix it. The state officials in office now have broken their oaths. We need representatives that will uphold the constitution. Re: 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256 "No one is bound to obey and unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it. Also in reference to Agenda 21 and the UN Small Arms Treaty. Reid vs. Covert, 354 US 1 (1957) Treaties do not confer powers that are not authorized by the constitution.

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