The Aloha State will be the latest to test the Supreme Court’s resolve in protecting public gun-carry rights.
Hawaii Governor Josh Green (D.) signed Senate Bill 1230 into law on Friday. The wide-ranging bill increases application fees for new concealed carry permits, expands requirements for training, and significantly broadens the list of “sensitive locations” throughout the state where even licensed Hawaiians can’t carry concealed firearms.
“In observance of today’s National Gun Violence Awareness Day, I’m pleased to be signing two bills – SB1230 and HB1239 – as gun violence represents an urgent public health and public safety issue,” Green said in a statement following the bill signing. “These bills strike a very appropriate balance between public safety, and protecting people and children in Hawaiʻi, along with respecting the Second Amendment right of individuals.”
The bill signing adds Hawaii to the list of states impacted by the Supreme Court’s landmark New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision that have retaliated with laws designed to undermine the Court’s ruling that public carry is a constitutionally-guaranteed right. It follows the lead of New York, New Jersey, and Maryland in creating new barriers to obtaining a permit and outlawing gun carry in most commonly visited public spaces in what has become the latest trend in deep blue states.
Gun-rights groups blasted the law. The Hawaii Firearms Coalition said the law effectively “ban[s] firearms in public” and “encroach[es] upon the rights of Hawaii’s citizens” in a tweet responding to the bill’s signing. It and the Hawaii Rifle Association have already pledged to file lawsuits against it.
Gun-control advocates, meanwhile, celebrated the law as a win for public safety and commended Hawaii lawmakers for challenging the Supreme Court.
“When the Supreme Court recklessly struck down part of a hundred-year-old gun safety law, Hawaiʻi lawmakers faced a choice—roll over or respond,” John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a press release. “By strengthening Hawaiʻi’s concealed carry law, lawmakers are addressing the dangerous situation created by the Court.”
Under the bill, licensed carry will now be prohibited on school campuses, in government buildings and adjacent parking lots, parks, beaches, recreational facilities, polling places, banks, public transportation, organized public assemblies, bars and restaurants serving alcohol, movie theaters, hospitals, zoos, museums, and more. It also emulates the provision of other Bruen-response bills that presumptively bans carry on any publicly-accessible private property, such as a store, unless the property owner gives explicit consent.
Hawaii’s process for obtaining a concealed carry permit was already one of the strictest in the nation before SB 1230. It was previously the only state to make its permits valid for just one year, requiring applicants to obtain up to 16 hours of training before they could qualify. The new law overhauls those requirements by making permits valid for four years and increasing the fees to apply by $150 while adding additional training requirements covering topics such as safe storage, conflict management, and learning about where firearms may not lawfully be carried. The law also allows individual counties to create their requirements for permitting and carry restrictions.
The law’s counterparts in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland have all been mired in legal challenges since their adoption. The laws in New York and New Jersey have both been enjoined by federal judges on multiple occasions to this point, though federal appellate judges have stayed those injunctions. The Supreme Court has not officially weighed in on any of the laws. However, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas signaled they thought highly of a district judge’s opinion holding the New York law unconstitutional in a concurrence they wrote when the Court declined an emergency request to intervene in the case earlier this year.
“The New York law at issue in this application presents novel and serious questions under both the First and the Second Amendments,” Alito wrote. “The District Court found, in a thorough opinion, that the applicants were likely to succeed on a number of their claims, and it issued a preliminary injunction as to twelve provisions of the challenged law.”
Alito noted that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had set an expedited schedule for hearing the case but also encouraged plaintiffs to return to the Court if the circuit didn’t act quickly.
“Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the Second Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of the appeal,” he wrote.
In addition to SB 1230, Governor Green signed a bill requiring the state’s education agency to develop and implement training programs for public schools to respond to active shooting scenarios.
The new “sensitive locations” restrictions will take effect on July 1, while the new permitting requirements will take effect on January 1, 2024.