Firearms permit requests up

Tom LaVenture

The Garden Island

Kaua‘i County processed and rejected gun permit applications at rates expected for its resident population, but applications were much higher statewide in 2011.

The State Attorney General’s office released its firearm registration statistics for 2011 on April 17. It reports 15,375 personal and private firearm permit applications were processed, a 20.1 percent increase from the previous record year in 2010.

Around 94 percent of applications were approved and issued permits, while 1.5 percent were rejected for disqualifying factors. Another 4.5 percent were approved but voided when applicants failed to pick up their permits in the specified time period.

The Kaua‘i Police Department processed 983 applications and approved 888 permits. Thirteen applications — 1.3 percent — were rejected by disqualification, while 82 applications were approved but timed out.

The report said there are currently 2,099 firearms registered on Kaua‘i. There are 982 new or imported firearms, while the remainder are transfers of existing firearms on-island.

Kaua‘i Police Chief Darryl Perry in a January interview said the permit application is statutory. He said it is a simple process of approving applicants that meet the criteria and denying those who do not.

Permit requirements for Kaua‘i started in 2000, when there was a 1.5 percent rejection rate. In 2001 there was a .3 percent rejection rate, .7 percent in 2002 , 1.3 percent in 2003, .4 percent in 2004, .2 percent in 2005, .1 percent in 2006, .6 percent in 2007, .2  percent in 2008, .1 percent in 2009 and 2010, and 1.3 percent in 2011.

The report said there is no way to track the number of firearms that permanently leave the state. Independent estimates a decade ago by the Department of the Attorney General and the Honolulu Police Department estimate around one million privately owned firearms in Hawai‘i, the report states.

A record high 36,804 firearms were registered statewide in 2011, which is a 17.2 percent increase over 2010. Around 48.8 percent were imported from out-of-state, and 51.2 percent were in-state transfers.

The State of Hawai‘i requires annual permits to acquire longarm rifles and shotguns, and one-time permits to acquire specific handguns. By firearm type, 57.4 percent of 2011 permits were to acquire longarms — rifles and shotguns — and 42.6 percent were for handguns.

Almost half  — 48.7 percent — of the 112 rejections in 2011 were for prior criminal convictions, and 26 — 11.3 percent — were due to pending charges. The remaining rejections were not based on the criminal histories.

It is a misdemeanor in the State of Hawai‘i to provide falsified information on firearm permit applications, including criminal or mental health histories, which makes it a felony offense. Falsified criminal or mental health information accounted for 74.8 percent of the 230 rejections in 2011.

Falsified information pertaining to anything other than criminal or mental health histories accounted for 3.5 percent of rejections. Around 21 percent of rejections went to applicants who provided no false information but did not qualify outright.

The full report is available at the Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division web site at www.hawaii.gov/ag/cpja.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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