State lawmakers pass gun bill that closes loophole

Hawaii Rifle Association supports SB 69; NRA is against it

Published  11:37 PM HST May 01, 2013
HONOLULU -

Statistics tell us there as many as 1 million guns in Hawaii. But, insiders tell KITV that number might be closer to 3 million.

The problem is -- there's no real way of knowing for sure.

Now, there's a bill headed to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desk that could help law enforcement keep tabs and this is a proposal some Hawaii gun rights advocates are getting behind.

This year's legislative session began with a slew of proposed gun laws, including bans on assault weapons and certain magazines, including manufacturer bans.

"It's the worst legislative year, in the beginning, that we've ever seen in 30 years. It was that bad," said Harvey Gerwig, president of the Hawaii Rifle Association. "Fortunately, our legislators woke up and said no we're not passing this."

Gerwig says the only bill not shot down is the one bill he's OK with.

Senate Bill 69 would close a loophole in law by requiring police departments to fingerprint, photograph, and perform background checks on people arriving in Hawaii with a firearm purchased from outside Hawaii.

"The concept was someone bringing a gun in might be able to, for instance, tell you they are Person A when, in fact, they are Person B. The fingerprint and photo would catch that," said Gerwig.

The Hawaii Rifle Association supported the measure. But, it butted heads with the National Rifle Association on this one.

"Their issue was there was a fee related to registration which they are absolutely against," said Gerwig. "We're not terribly fond of the fee. We would prefer that if HPD needs to do that it doesn't charge a fee for it, but we know better than that."

The measure continues to place the burden on police departments to handle the additional firearms registration.

Remember those long lines at the Honolulu Police Department's main station to register guns?  Gerwig says the wait time is down considerably.

HPD tells us it already does the FBI checks for gun owners bringing in firearms from outside Hawaii. This bill makes it mandatory for all county police departments to do so.

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