A federal judge in Hawaii struck down this week two of the state’s most draconian handgun purchase requirements.
Judge Michael Seabright ruled that the laws violate the Second Amendment rights of Hawaiians because “the Government has entirely failed to demonstrate how each law effectuates its asserted interest in public safety.”
“My co-counsel Stephen Stamboulieh and I are pleased with the outcome,” Alan Beck, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, told GunsAmerica. “We believe that the court came to the correct legal conclusion based upon existing case law. The two challenged laws do nothing to promote public safety and do nothing other than act as a burden to lawful firearm ownership.”
The first law challenged in the suit requires handgun owners to purchase a handgun within 10 days of receiving a permit to purchase that handgun. In Hawaii, residents must apply for a permit for each separate handgun. The second law forces residents to present their handguns to be inspected by law enforcement within five days of acquiring the firearm.
Both laws require residents to physically visit police stations multiple times, and those stations are only open during limited business hours.
The plaintiffs alleged that both laws infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms because “people who wish to own a firearm… must take time off work to complete the lengthy application process.”
The judge agreed. Seabright argued that the laws fail the “intermediate scrutiny” test because the state could not prove that either law contributes to public safety.
“The Government does not show that the legislature considered any evidence—let alone substantial evidence—prior to enacting the law,” Seabright says. “The Government provides no empirical evidence or case law suggesting that a 10-day permit use period would enhance public safety. Indeed, as the Government conceded during oral argument, its arguments boil down to simple ‘common sense.’”
Hawaii state attorneys also failed to prove that the police inspection requirement protects public safety.
“The Government wholly fails to demonstrate how the in-person inspection and registration requirement furthers these interests,” Seabright writes. “It has not shown that inaccurate registration was a problem affecting public safety (or even a problem at all) prior to enactment of the 2020 in-person inspection and registration requirement, nor has it provided any studies, examples from other jurisdictions, or any other type of evidence suggesting that an in-person inspection and registration requirement would ameliorate such a problem.”
The state can either appeal the ruling in the 9th Circuit or accept it. Beck told us it will be several months before they make that decision.