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Rash of deadly shootings has Hawaii lawmakers taking a look at state gun laws

By Paul Drewes

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — A slew of Oahu shootings has some taking aim at Hawaii’s gun laws.

Hawaii has the lowest overall rate of gun violence in the country, according to national data. The state also has strong gun laws, but the potentially deadly weapons are still finding their way into the wrong hands.

A spike in shootings on Oahu, including two deadly shooting involving teenagers, has some worried about gun violence.

“It is incredibly alarming. So many young people have access to firearms and using them in ways we’re not used to here in Hawaii,” said Senator Chris Lee.

Hawaii has strict gun laws compared other states. One of those laws is an age requirement for gun ownership.

“They do have to be 21 years old. They do have to get a permit from Honolulu police to have the gun in their possession. So these 18-19 years old with guns, that shows me they had to have been taken improperly or stolen,” stated co-owner of 808 Gun Club Tom Tomimbang.

Along with selling firearms, 808 Gun Club also sells safes and lock boxes to make sure the deadly weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands.

“Safeguarding of guns is an important aspect of owning a firearm, and if a firearm has been stolen it should be reported to police right away,” added Tomimbang.

So far this year, 44 guns have been reported stolen to Honolulu police. Over the past five years, an average of 180 firearms a year are reported stolen to HPD. Reporting those thefts to police within 24 hours is also a Hawaii law.

But not every gun owner follows that requirement or other ones.

A recent shoot out in Waianae, took place after a firearm was reportedly stolen from a vehicle.

“Storage of a firearm is also important. I do not recommend storing it in a vehicle, because that is illegal in the state of Hawaii. You are only allowed to transport the firearm in a locked case with ammo separate, it cannot be loaded. It can only be transported to a shooting facility or the police department,” said Tomimbang.

Even with the state’s current gun laws, new measures were introduced this legislative session. Some lawmakers call for more frequent licensing renewals, as well as keeping guns out of the hands of those with concerning mental health issues. Lee also wants to lessen the danger once illegal guns end up in the wrong hands.

“For those who should not have access to firearms, we have to be able to track black market weapons and see how they got into the wrong hands. We want to ensure that even if you are able to acquire a firearm illegally, you are not legally able to buy ammunition for it,” added Lee.

There are also concerns about ghost guns in the islands, which are pieces that can be put together to make a working gun. Ghost guns have no serial number or registration and are difficult to track. There is also talk, at the state and national level, to limit ghost guns.

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