The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence examined gun laws, looking at how each state keeps guns out of the hands of dangerous people, stops the supply of crime guns, and contributes to national gun violence. Based on this criteria, Hawaii was deemed to have the sixth strictest gun laws in the country.

Federal and State Gun Laws

There are two main types of gun laws: federal and state. Federal law specifies what is legal at the national level. While states cannot overrule federal law, local government can further limit what is allowed in their state.

The right to keep and bear arms in the United States is protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Federal statutes also generally regulate the manufacture, sale, possession, record keeping, transportation, and destruction of firearms, ammunition, and firearms accessories.

Local governments in Hawaii have the authority to restrict certain firearms and ammunition, and local licensing authorities have discretion in determining whether to issue a license to carry a firearm.

Who Can Possess a Gun in Hawaii

According to HRS 134-8, someone cannot own, possess, or control a gun or ammunition if they:
– are deemed ineligible under federal law
– have been indicted for, bound to circuit court, or have been convicted of a felony, any crime of violence, or an illegal drug sale
– are currently or have previously been treated for drug or alcohol abuse
– have a behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder
– are being treated for an organic brain syndrome

Hawaii Concealed Weapon Permitting

In order to get a concealed carry permit in Hawaii, you have to submit an application to the county police chief proving why you would need a concealed weapon for safety. You must be qualified to use the firearm and permitted by Hawaii law to own a gun.

A concealed weapons license costs $10 and is valid for one year from the date of issue. License holders from other states are not allowed to carry their concealed firearms in Hawaii.

In 2016, every application for a concealed carry permit was denied, making Hawaii the only state that did not issue a single permit. Since the state’s concealed carry permit is only valid for one year, Hawaii was also the only state not to have any active concealed carry permits at all.

Illegal Weapons in Hawaii

The following weapons are outlawed:
– Assault pistols
– Automatic firearms, including firearms that have been converted into an automatic firearm
– Rifles with barrel lengths less than sixteen inches
– Shotguns with barrel lengths less than eighteen inches
– Mufflers, silencers, or devices for deadening or muffling the sound of discharged firearms
– Cannons
– Hand grenades, dynamite, blasting caps, bombs, or bombshells, other explosives
– Any type of ammunition or any projectile made to penetrate metal or pierce protective armor
– Any type of ammunition or any projectile designed or intended to explode or segment upon impact with its target

Violators are guilty of a class C felony and will be imprisoned for a term of five years without probation.

Ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds for a pistol are also prohibited and punishable as a misdemeanor, unless the magazine is inserted into a pistol in which case the charge would change to a class C felony.

Self Defense in Hawaii

With all of Hawaii’s gun laws, you may be wondering what is allowed when it comes to defending yourself. In many criminal offenses such as assault or battery, self-defense is a common argument.

In order to prove self-defense, evidence must show that there was a threat of force that caused the defendant to have an immediate fear of physical harm. The accused must not have provoked the threat. In other words, a self-defense claim is doesn’t apply if the defendant initiated the fight.

Under HRS 703-304, someone can use non-deadly force to defend themselves and they do not have a duty to retreat. Non-deadly force is defined as force not likely to cause death or great bodily harm.

Deadly force can only be used in Hawaii if it is necessary to protect against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, rape, or forcible sodomy, and there is no way to escape this threat. There is a duty to retreat without using deadly force if you can do safely.

Hawaii does not have a “stand your ground” law. These laws essentially allow the use of force to protect oneself without requiring that person to try to retreat from the threat of danger first.

If threatened in your home, you do not have a duty to retreat, even if you can do so safely. This rule is known as the Castle doctrine and derives from the age-old belief that a man’s home is his castle and his safest refuge.