Hawaii was one of nine states that had some form of may-issue laws before the Supreme Court ruling in the Bruen case that struck down a centuries-old law in New York. May-issue means applicants must pass basic requirements and the issuing authority (county sheriff, police department, etc.) is allowed to use its own discretion in either issuing or denying a permit. Some may-issue states require an applicant to show “good cause” for obtaining a permit, while others require the applicant to show he or she is of suitable character and may require character references to authorize a permit. Now, New York and eight other states, are required to issue permits/licenses if the applicant meets the basic requirements set by the state. So, what does this mean for Hawaii?

What Did the Laws Look Like Before Bruen?

Before the Supreme Court struck down the centuries-old law in New York, it was next to impossible to obtain a concealed carry license in Hawaii as well. An applicant would need to show a “reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property” in order to carry a firearm for self-defense. The Chief of Police at the county level would then determine if the “reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property” was sufficient enough to warrant a permit to carry a firearm outside the home. For most applicants, the “reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property” aspect of the process was hardly ever met, leaving many law-abiding citizens without proper means of self-defense.

In addition to this stipulation, open carry and concealed carry of handguns on the person with a Hawaii License to Carry is only valid in the county of issue. This law means that any resident traveling outside his or her county of residence would no longer be legally allowed to carry a firearm. Also, handguns are the only weapons allowed to be carried with a Hawaii concealed carry license and handgun magazines may not hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Hawaii’s Response to the Supreme Court Decision

Hawaii’s Attorney General responded to a request of clarification by Gov. Ige by stating that “following Bruen, the chiefs of police may not constitutionally restrict both concealed and unconcealed (open) carry licenses only to those who demonstrate a ‘special need.’” However, all other licensing requirements would remain unchanged. Other Hawaiian lawmakers were unhappy with the decision, as well. State Sen. Karl Rhoads said, “it’s a disaster,” and that “it moves us in the wrong direction.” Lawmakers acknowledge that this decision removes the requirement to show “reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property” to obtain a license to carry. However, the need to “shore up” the state’s gun laws will be a possibility in the near future.

So far, Hawaii has not signed any new legislation in response to the Supreme Court ruling unlike other states, such as New York and California. All other requirements and laws have remained unchanged, still making it difficult to concealed carry in the state.