Información Legal: Hawái

Hawái: State Gun Laws

Actualizada: 
11 de enero de 2024

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre leyes sobre armas de fuego federales y estatales? ¿Por qué necesito entender ambos?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both “federal gun laws” and “state gun laws.” The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

What is the definition of a felony?

Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to gun laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have a gun. A felony is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor. In Hawaii, a felony is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or any crime that is listed as a felony in Hawaii’s criminal laws.1

However, you cannot always tell if someone was convicted of a felony only by looking at the amount of time s/he actually served in prison since sentences are often reduced or pled down. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out or go to the courthouse and search the conviction records.

1 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 701-107(2)

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Under Hawaii law, a person cannot have or buy a gun without having a permit issued by the chief of police in his/her county.1 You can see who can get a gun permit in Who qualifies for a gun permit?

In addition, Hawaii state law makes it illegal for anyone to have or buy a gun if s/he:

  1. is subject to an order, which includes an order for protection or a gun violence protective order, that:
    • prohibits that person from contacting, threatening, or physically abusing another person; and
    • specifically includes a statement that possession of a firearm by the person named in the order is prohibited;
  2. has been convicted of, or is being prosecuted for:
  3. is a fugitive from justice;
  4. cannot own a gun under federal gun laws;
  5. is or has been under treatment for addiction to a dangerous drug or alcohol, unless the person has been medically documented to no longer have the addiction;
  6. has been found not guilty of a crime because of a mental disorder, unless the person has been medically documented to no longer have the mental disorder;
  7. has been diagnosed with or treated for a medical, behavioral, psychological, emotional, or mental condition or disorder that causes or is likely to cause impairment in judgment, perception, or impulse control to an extent that presents an unreasonable risk to public health, safety, or welfare of others, unless the person has been medically documented to no longer be affected by these conditions; 
  8. has been determined by a judge to:
    • meet the criteria for involuntary hospitalization; or
    • be an “incapacitated person,” as defined by law;
  9. is under 25 and was found by a family court, as a juvenile, to have committed:
    • a felony;
    • a “crime of violence,” as defined above;
    • a criminal offense relating to firearms; or
    • an illegal sale or distribution of any drug;
  10. is under 18 and:
    • is under treatment for addiction to a dangerous drug, unless the person has been medically documented to no longer have the addiction;
    • is a fugitive from justice;
    • has been determined to not be responsible for a crime because of a mental disorder, unless the person has been medically documented to no longer have the mental disorder; or
    • has been committed to an institution due to a mental disorder, disease, or defect, unless the person has been medically documented to no longer have the mental disorder.2

If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun. Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 134-2(a)
2 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 134-7
3 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 134-1

Who qualifies for a gun permit?

Under Hawaii law, a person cannot have or buy a gun without having a permit issued by the chief of police in his/her county.1 The following people can qualify for a permit, as long as they don’t fall into any of the categories that make gun possession illegal:

  • citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent residents of the United States who are at least 21 years old;
  • official representatives of foreign nations; and
  • immigrants (“aliens”) who are:
    • a law enforcement officer;
    • age 18 or older if s/he has a hunting license; in this case, the permit is only for the use of a rifle and shotgun for a period of time up to 60 days; or
    • age 21 or older if s/he is in training for a specific organized sport-shooting contest years; in this case, the permit is only for a period of time up to six months.2

However, a permit can be denied to anyone who otherwise qualifies if the authority who is issuing it believes that it would not be in the interest of public health, safety, or welfare because “the person lacks the essential character or temperament necessary to be entrusted with a firearm.” In determining whether a person lacks this essential character or temperament, the issuing authority must consider whether the person poses a danger of causing a self-inflicted bodily injury or unlawful injury to another person, which can be proven by:

  • information from a health care provider indicating that the person has had suicidal or homicidal thoughts or tendencies within the preceding five years;
  • statements or actions by the person indicating any dangerous propensity or violent hatred (“animus”) toward one or more individuals or groups, including groups based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or any other characteristic; 
  • other information that would lead a reasonable, objective observer to conclude that the person presents or would present a danger to the community as a result of having a firearm; or
  • information that s/he intends or is likely to use a firearm for an unlawful purpose or in an unlawful manner.3

1 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 134-2(a)
2 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 134-2(d)
3 Haw. Rev. Stat. § 134-2(e)

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