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Hawaii enacts first state law in U.S. to place gun owners in database

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HAWAII — While the issue of gun control has made little headway in Congress, Hawaii this week enacted a series of gun laws, one of which the governor says makes it the first state to put firearm owners into a database.

That database, which is called the “Rap Back” system, is operated by the FBI and would notify police when a gun owner is arrested for a crime anywhere in the United States.

“This will allow county police departments in Hawaii to evaluate whether the firearm owner may continue to legally possess and own firearms,” the Hawaii governor’s office said in a statement.

“This is about our community’s safety and responsible gun ownership,” Gov. David Ige in a statement. “This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors to our islands.”

Ige and the majority of the Hawaii state legislators are Democrats.

The NRA expressed its displeasure with the new state law tweeting: “Exercising constitutional rights in #Hawaii now gets you entered into a federal watchlist, er, database.”

During the public comment process regarding the bill, opponent Quentin Kealoha asked: “Why are law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional right being entered into a criminal database? Would you enter people exercising their right to free speech into a criminal database?”

Supporters countered that adding gun owners to the database was needed because the initial background check wasn’t sufficient.

Maj. Richard Robinson from the Honolulu Police Department wrote that after the initial background check, there are no further checks on the gun owner.

“As a result, the county police departments have no way of knowing if a current Hawaii firearm owner has been convicted of a crime in another state that would prohibit him or her from owning a firearm,” Robinson wrote in a letter to the State House in March. The new law would “in essence provide an ongoing background check on firearm owners to determine their eligibility to own and possess a firearm.”

Two other gun laws in Hawaii

A second and separate gun measure signed into Hawaii state law Thursday prohibits offenders who have stalked or committed sexual assault from owning guns. At least 11 other states have some sort of laws restricting people who’ve been convicted of stalking from possessing guns.

That new law was praised by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured in a shooting, and her husband Mark Kelly. They are advocates for tighter gun laws.

“This is a major victory for common sense and another defeat for the gun lobby,” they said in a statement from their political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Giffords and Kelly said the law covering stalkers and sexual-assault offenders “will help guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and make Hawaii a safer place to live.”

The third new law requires gun owners to surrender their firearms and ammunition to the police if they’ve been disqualified to possess the weapons “due to a diagnosis of having a significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder, or due to emergency or involuntary admission to a psychiatric facility.”

If the person does not voluntarily give up their arms, the police chief has permission to seize the weapons.


  • grunt

    Next they will have a database of those that exercise their First Amendment rights and are critical of the government.
    Then they will send the IRS after them.
    Oh, wait… That already happened.

  • Michael Neils

    First place cops. militia etc will show up when the time comes to take away arms. MEANWHILE all the felons, illegals etc who have NOT been put on “the list” will still be armed.

  • Scott

    Yeah, and notice “arrested”, not convicted. So to disarm the population just arrest the masses then release them. No chance of corruption with this idea.

  • Vincent Calhoun

    This stinks! Hawaii is wrong! This is un-American and evil! Governments taking away our sacred right to defend ourselves! No good will come of this. Personal pain, agony and death will…

  • Kate S.

    if the gun lovers did a better job of policing themselves, this wouldn’t be necessary.

    Irresponsible gun owners are ruining it for you.

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