Hawaii lawmakers are pushing for a law that would require state residents who own handguns to have their information entered into a database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI database would then be updated anytime a resident of Hawaii was arrested in another state.
When a person in the database is arrested, law enforcement agencies that are enrolled in the Rapback Program are notified.
The Hawaii legislation has been called “groundbreaking” by Allison Anderman, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Anderman noted that no other state has even considered introducing a law like this one.
Officer Richard Robinson, a member of the Honolulu Police Department and one of the experts who helped to draft the legislation, said that law enforcement will benefit from the proposed bill because they will be able to keep convicted criminals from maintaining ownership of dangerous firearms. For instance, under current law, Hawaii police only become aware of a felon owning a gun when that person has already been convicted of a crime and later attempts to purchase a firearm. The new law would let Hawaii police know when someone who already owns a gun has become ineligible to do so.
Some supporters of the Hawaii legislation said that keeping track of gun owners, and making sure that police are aware of gun owners who are subsequently convicted of crimes, will make the state safer for everyone.
David Levine, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, predicted that the Hawaii law will likely prevail if and when it is challenged in the courts. Although the Hawaii database registration requirements may place limits on certain rights, the US Supreme Court has previously held that states do have some latitude when it comes to regulating the sale of handguns.
Hawaii Governor David Ige will still have to decide whether he wants to sign the bill into law. Prior to making that decision, Ige will listen to recommendations made by the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office, which is expected to conduct a comprehensive review of the proposed legislation.
For additional information, read the Yahoo.com article, “Hawaii Could Be First to Put Gun Owners in Federal Database.”
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