Despite efforts by House and Senate Democrats, Congress has made no progress when it comes to gun control. However, one of the benefits of our system of government is that state and local leaders can take action when the federal government does not. Earlier, this week, Hawaii passed three new laws regulating the sale of firearms and ammunition.
The first is Act 108, which gives law enforcement agencies the power to enroll people who purchase firearms or register firearms into an FBI criminal database. The database will allow the FBI to alert Hawaii law enforcement whenever the owner of a gun is arrested anywhere in the country. Hawaii is the first state to make use of this database in such a way. The governor’s office has stated that this law will help the authorities determine “whether the firearm owner may continue to legally possess and own firearms.”
In a press release, Governor David Ige stated that the law would help keep Hawaiians and tourists safe.
‘This is about our community’s safety and responsible gun ownership. This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors to our islands.
This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families.’
In addition to Act 108, Ige also signed House Bill 625 into law. The new law prohibits anyone who has been convicted of stalking or sexual assault from purchasing firearms. The law was introduced by Democrat Charles Lee, who said that domestic violence has been linked to gun crime. Sadly, violence against women is still a major problem in the United States, but it’s good to see one state taking action to address part of the problem.
The NRA and Hawaii Rifle Association have both come out in opposition to these bills. Fortunately for the people of Hawaii, it appears that the gun lobby doesn’t have quite the influence there that it does on the national stage. After weeks of watching the Republicans do nothing on the issue of gun control, it’s rather refreshing to see someone stand up to the gun lobby.
The third law seeks to address the link between mental illness and gun violence. The law states that those who have been disqualified from owning a gun due to mental disorder must turn guns over to local law enforcement. According to the statute, the new law:
‘Requires firearms owners who have been disqualified from owning a firearm and ammunition due to a diagnosis of significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder, or due to emergency or involuntary hospitalization to a psychiatric facility, to immediately surrender their firearms and ammunition to the Chief of Police.’
It’s great to see a state take a serious look at gun violence in this country and finally do something to address it. We can only hope that the federal government will eventually do the right thing and take a look at gun control legislation as well.