“After the shooting in Connecticut, I thought a review of our gun laws would be appropriate. Hawaii already has strict gun laws, so we are already in a better situation than other states in terms of regulating guns,” Sen. Will Espero told the Weekly by email.
Espero introduced SB 69, which crossed over to the House and passed first reading March 7. The bill establishes procedures for registering guns brought into the state by private owners, including background checks and fingerprinting. Espero said the attorney general’s office had suggested the language in the bill.
Originally, the bill also established a gun buy-back program, but this faced opposition. “Buy-backs waste taxpayer money,” read testimony submitted by the Hawaii Rifle Association at a Feb. 20 hearing.
Espero disagrees. “If one unwanted gun is removed from the public domain, that is one less gun that [can] be stolen or misused,” he said.
Espero said continuing to enact stringent gun laws in Hawaii can be a positive part of national debate.“More can certainly be done at the national level, and hopefully, some may look to Hawaii and see what we have implemented,” he said.
Numerous other bills regarding firearms were introduced this session, including an assault weapons ban, a repeal of magazine capacity limits, the creation of a mental health and firearms task force and new rules on ammunition sales. Most were never scheduled for hearings.