In a decision handed down last week, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled against a Hawaii citizen and gun owner, Christopher Wilson. After being arrested in 2017 for improperly holding a firearm and ammunition, Wilson argued his arrest for lacking a gun permit violates the Second Amendment as well as U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gun ownership.
Dave Workman is editor-in-chief of The Gun Mag, a a publication of the Second Amendment Foundation. He tells AFN he was “stunned” to read the Hawaii court ruling in which the justices claim there is no constitutional right in the Hawaii constitution to carry a firearm in public.
“But the McDonald ruling, by the U.S. Supreme Court back in 2010, incorporated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to the states via the 14th Amendment,” Workman, referring to a landmark 5-4 ruling, points out.
In that ruling, which struck down a citywide gun ban in crime-ridden Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court said the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” applies to state and local governments. By invoking the 14th Amendment, the justices said it is the duty of states and local governments to uphold and defend that constitutional right, too.
“So whether Hawaii likes it or not,” Workman argues, “they're stuck with the language of the Second Amendment and all the court rulings that go along with it."
The most recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling came in 2022. That decision struck down a state law in which New York citizens were required to cite an immediate threat in order to apply for a gun permit.
Despite a string of landmark rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, a Hawaii justice wrote the state court reads the Second Amendment “differently” than the U.S. Supreme Court. Hence there is no “state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public," Justice Todd Eddins wrote.
The ruling went on to state the “spirit of Aloha clashes with a federally-mandated lifestyle that lets citizens walk around with deadly weapons during day-to-day activities," a Fox News story reported.
Elsewhere in the ruling, Justice Eddins quotes a character’s dialogue from the HBO show “The Wire,” which is “the thing about the old days, they the old days.” The purpose of that quote, the ruling said, was to suggest there is no reason for modern-day society to follow “the founding era’s culture, realities, laws, and understanding of the Constitution."
Eddins, a former circuit judge, was appointed to the state court in 2020 by Gov. David Ige.
“Wherever the facts and the law will lead me, that’s where I’ll go,” Eddins, referring to his political views, said in 2020.
Hawaii’s current gun laws are so strict that Everytown, a national anti-gun group, ranks the state No. 5 for “gun law strength.”