2024-08 ATTORNEY GENERAL LOPEZ HAILS HAWAIʻI SUPREME COURT DECISION UPHOLDING CONSTITUTIONALITY OF PLACE TO KEEP FIREARMS LAWSPosted on Feb 8, 2024 in Latest Department News, Newsroom
DEPARTMENT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
KA ʻOIHANA O KA LOIO KUHINA
JOSH GREEN, M.D.
News Release 2024-08
ATTORNEY GENERAL LOPEZ HAILS HAWAIʻI SUPREME COURT DECISION UPHOLDING CONSTITUTIONALITY OF “PLACE TO KEEP” FIREARMS LAWS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2024
HONOLULU – Attorney General Anne Lopez today praised the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court for its decision to uphold the constitutionality of state “place to keep” firearms laws, which generally prohibit carrying a firearm in public unless licensed to do so.
In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Todd Eddins in State v. Wilson, the Court reaffirmed that under the Second Amendment, “States retain the authority to require that individuals have a license before carrying firearms in public.” Moreover, the court explained that because the defendant in this litigation “made no attempt to get a license, he cannot claim the law’s application procedures are unconstitutional as applied to him.”
The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court also rejected the suggestion that the Hawaiʻi Constitution independently bars the state of Hawaiʻi from enacting and enforcing important gun-safety legislation at the state level. The court explained that “the Hawaiʻi Constitution does not afford a right to carry firearms in public places for self defense.” The court noted that the words of the Hawaiʻi Constitution confer a right to “keep and bear arms” in the context of a “well-regulated militia.” This language—read in light of Hawaiʻi’s long history of protective firearms laws—excludes an individual right to carry deadly weapons in public under the Hawaiʻi Constitution.
“This is a landmark decision that affirms the constitutionality of crucial gun-safety legislation,” said Attorney General Lopez. “Gun violence is a serious problem, and commonsense tools like licensing and registration have an important role to play in addressing that problem. 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.”
“We congratulate our friends and partners at the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Maui for their work on this important case,” said Attorney General Lopez.
The case is State of Hawaiʻi v. Wilson, SCAP-22-0000561. A copy of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court opinion can be found here.
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
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Public Information Officer
Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General
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