BY DR. MAX COOPER – SB 69, relating to firearms, originally a gun buyback program for the county police departments and redrafted and expanded to a Gun Safety and Appropriations bill by Sen. Will Espero’s Public Safety Committee, was heard in the money committee, Senate Ways and Means (WAM), on Wednesday.
The State Attorney General’s representative, HPD, and Maui PD offered comments. Concern was expressed about deploying already short-staffed police officers and departmental resources for buybacks, training the public, and special mental health background checks.
Hawaii Rifle Association, Lessons In Firearms Education (LIFE), NRA, Hawaii Defense Foundation, and over 103 individuals testified in person or sent testimony in opposition to the bill.
HRA affirmed support for NICS background checks and one-time only fingerprint fees, but recommended that funding for any of the proposed uses be deleted from the bill. Alternative appropriations were suggested, including expanded manpower, locations, and hours for registration and permits, NRA Eddie Eagle child safety programs, and a classroom for Koko Head Range.
There were questions from Committee Chair Sen. David Ige and Committee Members with considerable discussion of the issues.
Decision on the bill was deferred until 10:30 am Friday, Feb 22, when the Chair will announce his recommendations and the committee will vote. If amended and passed, a new draft will be written, and cross over to the House of Representatives for more hearings.
Mahalo to all who sent testimony. This kind of maneuvering at the Capitol is normal at this stage. “It isn’t over ‘till it’s over.” Yogi Berra
Dr. Maxwell Cooper is the HRA Legislative Liaison