Attorney argues Hawaii law is a ban on carrying guns

HONOLULU — A challenge to Hawaii’s strict gun laws was back before a federal appeals court Thursday, where an attorney representing the state tried to defend a law that allowed officials to deny George Young a permit to carry a loaded gun in public.

Young’s attorney, Alan Beck, said the law is a de-facto ban on guns outside the home.

Young wants to carry a gun for self-defense and says that not being able to do so violates his rights. His 2012 lawsuit was dismissed, with a judge siding with officials who said the Second Amendment only applied to guns kept in homes. It was Young’s third lawsuit seeking a carry permit to be dismissed.

He appealed. Three federal appeals court judges later ruled in his favor but the state asked for a fuller panel of judges to hear the case.

Hawaii County hasn’t issued a carry permit in 20 years, Young’s attorney, Alan Beck, argued.

“We do not take lightly the problem of gun violence, which the State of Hawaii ‘has understandably sought to fight,’” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2-1 ruling in 2018. “But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”

If the ruling stands, it could lead to more guns in public in the few Western states under 9th Circuit jurisdiction where they are currently restricted.

O’Scannlain was among the 11 randomly selected judges who heard arguments Thursday.

“He would be perfectly happy with an open carry permit,” Beck said of Young. “He also would be perfectly fine if this court found that rather than having a freestanding right to concealed carry, he’d be open to carry concealed as a reasonable alternative.”

Judge William Fletcher asked if it would be a violation of the Second Amendment if applicants needed to show some immediate danger for why a gun was necessary for self-defense.

Yes it would be, Beck said: “Crime is not something that individuals can predict.”

Hawaii’s law is not a flat ban because individuals can carry firearms if they have good cause, said Neal Katyal, a lawyer representing Hawaii.

“Hawaii’s law is squarely rooted in a long historical tradition going back seven centuries,” he said. “That tradition shows that carrying firearms in public without good cause has never been part of the right to keep and bear arms.”

It’s likely the U.S. Supreme Court will settle the issue. It’s not clear when the 9th circuit judges will issue a ruling.

“Hawaii’s carry law is the most restrictive in the country,” Beck told The Associated Press. “Hawaii is the only place in the country where it’s effectively impossible to get a permit.”

4 Comments
  1. Rev Dr Malama September 24, 2020 7:44 pm Reply

    I support the Constitutional rights to carry open and concealed weapons.
    Hawai’i is anti women by being anti gun.
    The States that have allowed citizens to legally protect themselves in public have had violent crimes decreasing by huge numbers and Hawai’i is going to have more lawsuits as women especially are vunerable in any place that basically has decided that people are not worthy of self preservation and protection.
    As the economy has crumbled, we hear about a pandemic of violence going on and if the perpetrators thought that they were going to be shot by their victims the crime level would have decreased.
    Instead it appears that there’s to much revenue generated from incarceration rather than preventing the crimes.


    1. D Pueolani September 25, 2020 6:50 am Reply

      To suggest that the use of firearms to solve Island problems is shear Tomfoolery! This isn’t John Wayne’s wild west. The proper use & handling of a weapon requires a lot of training & a proper reflexive mindset. The use of a firearm may solve one problem & cause another that will define the remainder of your life. Once dispatched, a projectile can’t be recalled. When carried, a firearm will push you to use it, instead of seeking another solution. Are you ready to have your once peaceful life to change? Aloha


  2. Mark Lofquist September 26, 2020 7:36 am Reply

    The constitution is clear. The state of Hawaii violating our rights. I support the Constitutional rights to carry open and concealed weapons. I always legally conceal carry on the mainland. We need a national conceal permit process good in all 50 states.


  3. White privilege September 27, 2020 8:40 am Reply

    Why does anybody living in hawaii need a gun , there is a reason why we have such low violent crime rate compared to the mainland. Live Aloha


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