Hawai‘i Becomes First U.S. State to Place Gun Owners into a National Database

The governor approves three legislative measures targeted at gun control.
The governor signs into state law three measures targeted at gun control.
Photo: Thinkstock 


Hawai‘i is already one of the most restrictive states when it comes to gun ownership. This legislative session, state lawmakers pumped out a number of new laws aimed at guns. Some of Hawaiʻi’s new gun control laws put the state on the frontier of ensuring responsible gun ownership—and have card-carrying members of the NRA across the nation freaking out.


Act 108

Arguably the most controversial gun law passed this year, Act 108 authorizes the police department to enroll firearms applicants and individuals registering a firearm into an FBI criminal record monitoring service known as “Rap Back.” The bill, including two others regarding guns, was signed into law by Gov. David Ige on June 22, making Hawaiʻi the only state in the nation to register gun owners in a criminal activity monitoring system.


Rap Back notifies bosses and the police of arrests and charges in other states. The system is designed to be a live background check for people who hold positions of trust, such as school teachers.


Opponents of the bill invoke the specter of Orwell’s Big Brother, decrying the idea of innocent people being registered on a watch list.


Act 109

Stalking and sexual assault are among the few nonfelony charges that will ban a person from gun ownership now that Act 109 has been signed into law. While the U.S. Supreme Court backed up Hawaiʻi with a June 27 ruling that upheld misdemeanor sexual assault as a just reason to bar gun ownership, Hawaiʻi’s state law will now include stalking, which doesn’t neccessarily involve physical violence.


Act 110

Act 110 requires gun owners to surrender their firearms and ammunition to the chief of police if they are disqualified from owning a gun because of a significant behavioral, emotional or mental disorder diagnosis, or is hospitalized in a psychiatric facility on an emergency or involuntary basis. The act does not broaden restrictions on gun owners—but it does allow the Honolulu Police Department to confiscate guns from those who refuse to surrender them.


So, if you want to keep your gun:


  • Keep your nose clean while in another state.

  • Don’t stalk or sexually assault anybody.

  • Don’t already be barred from owning a gun.


Pretty simple, really.