Gun Rights Advocates Gather in Downtown Honolulu
By: Nick Ochs
13 April 2019
Second Amendment supporters made their voices heard at the Rally for the 2nd Amendment and Public Safety, hosted by the Hawaii Firearms Coalition (HiFICO). HiFICO is a local non-profit organization that describes itself as an activist and lobbying group for Second Amendment rights.
A crowd of approximately 100 Hawaii residents was gathered by 8:30 Thursday morning. The demonstration took place in front of the Hawaii State Capitol building and featured speakers and sign waving. Unlike gun rights rallies in other states, attendees were not armed. Hawaii law technically allows for firearms to be carried openly or concealed with permits to do so. These firearm permits may only be issued by the chief of police in special cases, and in practice these are not issued to civilians. Hawaii is considered a “no-issue” state.
Andew Roberts of HiFICO addresses the crowd
Hawaii’s practice of denying residents the ability to carry a firearm was ruled unconstitutional in 2018 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the legality of being armed in Hawaii is now being debated by advocates on both sides of the issue.
The rally also addressed recent violent crimes in Honolulu, including purse snatchings and the deaths of two HPD officers responding to a call in the Diamond Head neighborhood. Speakers and attendees expressed a need for self-defense rights as a response to crime, including legalizing tasers as well as gun rights.
“Nothing like this has been done in Hawaii before, so it takes a little bit of work to let everybody learn what’s going on.”, said HiFICO Co-director Andrew Roberts. “The first thing that we have to do is educate the public. Hawaii has about 2 million guns. We have more guns than people, yet we have some of the lowest crime rates in the nation.”
Attendees included staff at local firearms stores, shooting clubs, and several visitors from neighbor islands. Rally goer Mike Elliot said personal experience trying to legally carry a gun in Hawaii made him want to publicly protest. “It’s terrible here… Something that is a right is denied here in the state of Hawaii. Even (myself) applying for a concealed carry on 3 separate occasions the chief of police sees it fit to be the arbiter of rights and deny citizens the right to carry.”
Not all Honolulu residents were enthused to have a gun rights rally in their city however. Hawaii State Senator Karl Rhoads also noted that there are more guns than people in Hawaii in a letter to the Star Advertiser and said, “If the argument is that more guns means safer streets, Hawaii would be crime free already.” Sen. Rhoads has introduced con control legislation in Hawaii in the past.
HiFICO has no current plans for more rallies but plans to remain active supporting gun rights in Hawaii, especially encouraging citizen testimony on upcoming bills.