By C.D. Michel
The Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen set off a fierce backlash in the anti-gun owner states. Several states passed (or plan to pass) Bruen response bills that undermine the right to carry both by making CCW permits harder to get and, more nefariously, making nearly everywhere a “sensitive place” where public carry is forbidden even with a permit.
Hawaii passed such a law (SB 1230) that restricts access to concealed carry permits, designates many properties as “sensitive places” where carry permits are invalid, and makes carrying in most places prohibited unless a sign is posted that expressly allows carry on the premises.
This approach of paying lip service and feigning compliance with the Second Amendment while making it a crime to exercise that right practically anywhere has been adopted in several states.
A lawsuit challenging the Hawaii law as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, Wolford v. Lopez, was brought by the Hawaii Firearms Coalition and several individual plaintiffs. The lawsuit seeks to block SB 1320 from taking effect.
Yesterday a United State District Court Judge granted the plaintiffs’ request for a restraining order blocking most of Hawaii’s law. So, Hawaii’s ban on carrying in parks, beaches, places that serve alcohol, banks, certain parking lots, and private property held open to the public (except by invitation) is blocked from taking effect — for now. But the fight is not over yet.
Judge Lesli E. Kobayashi (an Obama appointee) issued a thorough 91-page ruling in which she faithfully applied the Bruen test in blocking most of the law from taking effect.
To support the plaintiffs’ request to block the law the Second Amendment Law Center, Gun Owners of America, the Hawaii Rifle Association, California Rifle & Pistol Association, Gun Owners of California, and Gun Owners Foundation filed an amicus brief in the District Court in the Wolford case. You can read the brief HERE. Another impressive amicus brief was filed by our friends at the Second Amendment Foundation. Read it by clicking HERE.
That Amicus Brief helped make this win happen. The Judge quoted the Second Amendment Law Center amicus brief in her ruling.
In trying to convince the court that the law is constitutional, Hawaii argued that the state’s concerns for public safety justified it. Judge Kobayashi cited the GOA amici brief in rejecting the state’s arguments:
According to the GOA [and others] Amicus Brief, the vast majority of individuals in the United States with concealed carry permits are law-abiding. See GOA Amicus Brief at 20–25 (discussing the statistics of people with concealed carry permits to support the proposition that people with concealed carry permits are significantly less likely to commit gun-related crimes)…
…Although it is possible post-Bruen that more conceal carry permits are eventually issued in Hawai`i, that alone does not negate Plaintiffs’ position that the vast majority of conceal carry permit holders are law abiding. See, e.g., GOA Amicus Brief at 21–22 (stating that Texas in 2020 had 1,441 convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon but only four of those convictions were people with valid concealed carry permits – roughly 0.278% of the total).
Credit, of course, goes to the plaintiffs and their lawyers Alan Beck and Kevin O’Grady. 2ALC is thrilled that the data we presented in our team’s amicus brief helped convince Judge Kobayashi to reach the right ruling.
Laws like the one in Hawaii have already been tried in places like California, New York, and New Jersey. Those laws have also been challenged in the federal courts — which have mostly struck down these unconstitutional requirements.
Right now, the California legislature is getting ready to pass a similar law (SB 2) that would make it harder to get a CCW and make a CCW invalid in so many places that the permit would be practically useless, and accidental violations would be common. The California Rifle & Pistol Association and its strategic partners, including Gun Owners of California, Second Amendment Foundation, and Gun Owners of America, have a lawsuit ready to file to stop SB 2.
Now the win in Hawaii will be used as legal precedent in briefs to block SB 2 from taking effect. This is why we fight all over the country for the rights of so many.
Recently 2ALC successfully coordinated similar amicus brief campaigns in Illinois and Delaware (opposing bans on commonly possessed semi-automatic firearms and standard capacity magazines) and is also working to support lawsuits challenging unconstitutional gun bans in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Washington, D.C., and other jurisdictions.
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg and others financially support anti-gun owner groups, and these groups routinely submit amicus briefs supporting unconstitutional laws. This makes 2ALC’s amicus brief campaigns critical to success in the courts – as the ruling in Hawaii demonstrates.
C.D. “Chuck” Michel is Senior Partner at the Long Beach, California Law firm of Michel & Associates, P.C. He is the author of California Gun Laws, A Guide to State and Federal Firearm Regulations now in its 10th edition for 2023 and available at www.calgunlawsbook.com.