Thu, Feb 8, 2024 11:50 AM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
A ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court saying "there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public" drew praise from the state's attorney general and criticism from people across the U.S.
The court's decision is based on a case brought by Christopher Wilson, who was cited by police in 2017 on several charges after he told police he was carrying an unregistered gun, according to the ruling.
Wilson challenged the conviction, saying he was carrying the gun for self-defense. In later filings, Wilson's attorneys cited a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, in which the justices said carrying a firearm in public is a constitutional right.
The court's 53-page ruling said Hawaii's history "does not include a society where armed people move about the community to possibly combat the deadly aims of others."
"The spirit of Aloha clashes with a federally-mandated lifestyle that lets citizens walk around with deadly weapons during day-to-day activities," the ruling said.
Attorney General Anne Lopez said the decision upholds "the constitutionality of state' place to keep' firearms laws, which generally prohibit carrying a firearm in public unless licensed to do so."
"Gun violence is a serious problem, and commonsense tools like licensing and registration have an important role to play in addressing that problem," Lopez said. "More broadly, Justice Eddins' thoughtful and scholarly opinion for the court provides an important reminder about the crucial role that state courts play in our federal system."
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst criticized the decision on social media.
"The 'Spirit of Aloha' does not give any court the ability to override our constitutional #2A rights," Ernst said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. "This is absolutely disgraceful."
Hawaii has aimed at stricter gun laws. Gov. Josh Green signed a bill in June that bans the carrying of concealed weapons in what are called "sensitive places" that includes hospitals, schools and government buildings. The law went into effect on Jan. 1.