Following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, permit applications to carry carry concealed or unconcealed handguns publicly can now be downloaded online from the Hawaii Police Department, as can the supporting documentation applicants must submit.
Those interested should visit the HPD website at hawaiipolice.com and select the “Services” tab.
“We’re the only ones in the state right now that have posted the procedures and the applications online publicly,” Chief Paul Ferreira, who is retiring at the end of today, said Tuesday.
Ferreira added that Maui County has been issuing permits for about a month.
A revision in the permitting process for licenses to carry concealed and unconcealed firearms is a result of the June 23 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of New York State Rifle &Pistol Association v. Bruen.
The ruling says local governments can’t require those seeking a license to carry a gun in public to demonstrate a particular need, such as a direct threat to their safety. Prior to the ruling, Hawaii’s police chiefs issued only six carry permits in 21 years, according to state data.
“We issue carry permits, unconcealed, for security and stuff like that. I don’t recall us ever issuing one for concealed carry,” Ferreira said. “The way the law read — which is what the Supreme Court overturned — was you had to assure the urgency and need (for a concealed carry permit). And that was never done.”
Ferreira said he didn’t know if HPD has received any applications yet, “but I do know that we’ve received inquiries as to the process, inquiries about the qualifications, inquiries about the firing course and all that.”
In addition to the application, which has a fee of $10, applicants must submit a copy of the legal registration for the specific firearm to be carried; a copy of a signed firearms proficiency test administered by a state-certified or National Rifle Association firearms instructor; two passport-type photos of the applicant taken within the past 30 days; and an authorization form from the state Department of Health.
Applications and supporting documentation may be submitted in person or via mail to the Hawaii Police Department’s Records and Identification Section, 349 Kapiolani Street, Hilo, HI 96720.
Any questions can be directed to Lt. Tuck Loy Aurello at 961-2233 or via email at HCPDONE@hawaiicounty.gov.
“I would say it’s going to be almost like when you come in for a permit to acquire (a firearm),” Ferreira said when asked how long it will take qualified applicants to receive a permit to carry. “It’s going to take at least two weeks. It’s all going to come down to how much work is there, at the time, for the clerks who are processing them.”
Those permits to carry concealed or unconcealed firearms only apply to handguns.
“And understand, the license to carry is restricted only to handguns,” he added. “It’s not like Texas, where you can walk around with an AR-15 on your shoulder, stuff like that.”
Ferreira said people who carry handguns in public need to think about where they’re going, especially if their destination is a place where they have to go through a metal detector, such as an airport of courthouse.
“Private business can restrict the carrying of a firearm. Private business can pretty much restrict anything. They can refuse service for whatever reason — no shirt, no shoes, no service,” he said. “But think about hospitals, government office buildings, the Social Security Administration. Those places, there really isn’t any restriction. The law is not codified. So, that is something the Legislature will need to look at. We’re asking the people who actually obtain the license to carry to be responsible with their weapon, know where they should be carrying it and where they shouldn’t be. Because, right now, the law does not restrict where they can carry.”
Jim O’Keefe, a vice president and Hilo director of the Hawaii Rifle Association, said the police Records Division, which handles firearms registration and permitting, told him they’d received “a huge number of people who were requesting the applications.”
“So, it’s probably going to be quite a process to get people through, because police are getting a lot more demand than they were probably expecting,” he said.
Asked how he thought average citizens being granted concealed carry permits would affect the Big Island, O’Keefe replied “not greatly.”
“A lot of the people I know that want the permits, they’re not really expecting to be carrying on a regular basis. Some will, of course,” he said. “Others just want to have it on record that they are permitted to do it in case they ever feel the need to carry. So I don’t think there’s going to be a large change in either public perception of who’s carrying, who’s not, or any real problems with it.
“Forty-three states plus the District of Columbia have a concealed carry permit process … and despite all of the predictions of, you know, Tombstone, Wild West and all that, the process has been very calm. And people have adjusted very, very well and fairly easily to it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Email John Burnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.