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Hawaii court rebukes SCOTUS in gun rights case, cites ‘spirit of Aloha’

Feb 12

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In a recent ruling, the Hawaiian Supreme Court invoked the “spirit of Aloha,” a deeply ingrained cultural conduct emphasizing kindness, humility, unity and patience, to address the issue of firearm regulation. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, the court ruled that people living in Hawaii do not have the right to carry a firearm in public without a license.

The case dates back to 2017 when Maui police arrested Christopher Wilson for carrying an unregistered pistol. Wilson was charged with improperly holding a firearm and ammunition. The gun was unregistered in Hawaii and Wilson had not applied for a permit to carry the gun. Wilson told officers he legally purchased the gun in Florida in 2013. He filed to dismiss the charges and argued officers violated his Second Amendment rights.

Wilson’s motion was denied.

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The high court ruled that carrying a gun in public is a constitutional right. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote gun laws must be “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

So, Wilson filed a second motion to dismiss his case. A judge granted the dismissal. However, the state appealed to its Supreme Court.

Wednesday, Hawaii’s high court vacated the lower court’s order that granted Wilson’s motion to dismiss.

In a 53-page unanimous opinion, Hawaii Justice Todd Eddin rebuked the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision.

Eddin noted that Hawaii’s Constitution mirrors the Second Amendment, but the court reads those words differently than the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We hold that in Hawaii there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public,” Eddin said, adding that Hawaii’s historical tradition excludes an individual right to possess weapons.

“Hawai’i has never recognized a right to carry deadly weapons in public; not as a kingdom, republic, territory, or state,” Eddin said.

“The spirit of Aloha clashes with a federally mandated lifestyle that lets citizens walk around with deadly weapons during day-to-day activities,” the opinion said.

Wilson’s lawyer said his office is looking over their options, including seeking a review from the U.S. Supreme Court.

In another Second Amendment case out of Hawaii, three Maui residents are challenging a law that went into effect last year that prohibits Hawaii residents from carrying firearms on the beach, into banks and bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments in April.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

WELCOME TO THE SANDY BEACHES OF HAWAII –
WHERE LOCALS LIVE BY WHAT THEY CALL THE “ALOHA SPIRIT” – WRITTEN INTO HAWAIIAN LAW THAT ALL HAWAIIANS CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN LOVING WAYS TO EACH OTHER BY EXPRESSING KINDNESS, HUMILITY, UNITY AND PATIENCE.

IT’S THAT SPIRIT OF ALOHA THAT THE HAWAIIAN SUPREME COURT JUST USED TO RULE:

HAWAIIANS DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO CARRY A FIREARM IN PUBLIC WITHOUT A LICENSE.

THE CASE DATES BACK TO 2017 –
WHEN MAUI POLICE ARRESTED A MAN NAMED CHRISTOPHER WILSON – FOR CARRYING AN UNREGISTERED PISTOL.

WILSON WAS CHARGED WITH IMPROPERLY HOLDING A FIREARM AND AMMO.

THE GUN WAS UNREGISTERED IN HAWAII – AND WILSON HAD NOT APPLIED FOR A PERMIT TO CARRY THE GUN.

WILSON TOLD OFFICERS HE LEGALLY PURCHASED THE GUN IN FLORIDA IN 2013.

HE FILED TO DISMISS THE CHARGES ARGUING THEY VIOLATE HIS SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS.

WILSON’S MOTION WAS DENIED.

THEN IN 2022 – THE U-S SUPREME COURT HANDED DOWN IT’S DECISION IN NEW YORK STATE RIFLE & PISTOL ASSOCIATION V. BRUEN. THE HIGH COURT RULING CARRYING A GUN IN PUBLIC A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. THE COURT ALSO SAYING GUN LAWS MUST BE “CONSISTENT WITH THE NATION’S HISTORICAL TRADITION OF FIREARM REGULATION”.

SO, WILSON FILED A SECOND MOTION TO DISMISS HIS CASE.

A JUDGE GRANTED THE DISMISSAL.

AND THEN THE STATE APPEALED TO THE STATE SUPREME COURT.

THIS WEEK – HAWAI’I’S HIGH COURT VACATED THE LOWER COURT’S ORDER GRANTING WILSON’S MOTION TO DISMISS.

IN A 53-PAGE UNANIMOUS OPINION – JUSTICE TODD EDDIN REBUKED THE SUPREME COURT’S BRUEN DECISION.

HE NOTED THE STATE’S OWN CONSTITUTION MIRRORS THE SECOND AMENDMENT BUT THAT THE COURT READS THOSE WORDS DIFFERENTLY THAN THE U-S SUPREME COURT.

“WE HOLD THAT IN HAWAI’I THERE IS NO STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CARRY A FIREARM IN PUBLIC.” HE SAID, DIRECTLY CONTRADICTING THE BRUEN RULING.

HE ADDED,
“HAWAI’I’S HISTORICAL TRADITION EXCLUDES AN INDIVIDUAL RIGHT TO POSSESS WEAPONS.”

THE OPINION GOES ON TO SAY “HAWAI’I HAS NEVER RECOGNIZED A RIGHT TO CARRY DEADLY WEAPONS IN PUBLIC; NOT AS A KINGDOM, REPUBLIC, TERRITORY, OR STATE” AND THAT “THE SPIRIT OF ALOHA CLASHES WITH A FEDERALLY-MANDATED LIFESTYLE THAT LETS CITIZENS WALK AROUND WITH DEADLY WEAPONS DURING DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES.”

WILSON’S LAWYER SAID THURSDAY – HIS OFFICE IS LOOKING OVER THEIR OPTIONS INCLUDING SEEKING A REVIEW FROM THE U-S SUPREME COURT.

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

IN ANOTHER SECOND AMENDMENT CASE OUT OF HAWAII…
THREE MAUI RESIDENTS ARE CHALLENGING A LAW THAT WENT INTO EFFECT LAST YEAR – PROHIBITING HAWAIIAN RESIDENTS FROM CARRYING FIREARMS ON THE BEACH, OR INTO BANKS, AND BARS AND RESTAURANTS THAT SERVE ALCOHOL.

THE 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS IS SET TO HEAR ORAL ARGUMENTS IN APRIL.