Police chief calls for stricter gun laws

LIHUE — In his address to the nation Sunday, President Barack Obama called the Orlando mass shooting an “act of terror and hate” and said it was a reminder of how “easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people …”

“And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be,” Obama said. “And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

Kauai Police Department Chief Darryl Perry urged Kauai residents to fight for stricter gun control laws on the Garden Isle.

“Once again with heavy hearts we send our sympathies out to the victims of this tragic massacre. Without a doubt Congress must take a stand for stronger gun legislation or this cycle of violence will continue unabated,” he said. “It’s been almost a year to the day that that I wrote to The Garden Island that ‘Guns Are The Problem,’ yet we as a nation continue down this path of madness. It must stop. Please write to your legislators for stricter gun control laws particularly assault-like weapons. May the families and victims find internal strength to continue on.”

Stephen Shioi, a Kapaa resident and gun owner, said banning guns is not the answer.

“Anti-gun lobby plays on people’s emotions,” Shioi said. “Why do you think this always comes up after a tragedy? Clinton, Sanders jump on the anti-gun bandwagon within minutes of this happening and it has nothing to do with the firearm.”

Shioi said if criminals want to gain access to weapons, they will.

“People want to say that guns are evil,” Shioi said. “With all the guns in my safe, not one of them has jumped up and killed someone. A gun is a tool that is misused by a human being. I can kill someone with a hammer, a chainsaw, a baseball bat or any inanimate object. No one blames the car when a drunk driver kills someone.”

Bronson Bautista, owner at Kauai’s PD Designs & Armory gun store in Lihue, said he had more than 20 people enter his store Monday interested in purchasing an ArmaLite Rifle-15 or an AR-15, the gun used in the Orlando shooting.

“It’s always like this after something happens,” he said. “My distributor called me this morning and he told me he sold 5,000 rifles this morning nationwide. Obviously, there’s a lot of rumors circulating about a urgent distress ban. I doubt that will really happen, but everyone gets nervous.”

Bautista said Kauai residents don’t realize the amount of guns in circulation on the island.

Kauai County, home to a little more than 71,000 people, has 3,365 registered guns, according to a report from the Attorney General’s Office. The number of processed applications in 2015 by the Kauai Police Department fell from 1,741 to 1,593, the report showed. It’s the first time in five years that the number of applications has fallen.

Between 2010 and 2014, the number of applications rose 847 to 1, 741 processed. The amount of guns registered also rose from 1,669 to 3,807.

Twenty-seven applications were denied and 1,438 were approved. One hundred and twenty-eighty applications were voided after applicants failed to return within the specified time period.

The number of gun permits processed annually in Kauai County from 2000 through 2015 jumped 230 percent, the number of registered firearms surged at 233 percent and the number of firearms imported soared at 251 percent, the report showed.

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