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Gun bills pass Hawaii Senate committee


(The Center Square) – Hawaii lawmakers are moving forward with multiple bills that would restrict access to firearm use.

One bill that would make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase ammunition in Hawaii is now in the hands of the Senate.

The Committee on Public Safety and Intergovernmental and Military Affairs heard from several people opposed to the bill.

“This is a direct violation of existing laws for people aged 18-20. This has never been a problem before and is not a problem now,” said Thomas Allen. “This law would effectively stop all young people from hunting and enjoying sports shooting. If you are old enough to be trusted to vote or go to war, you are old enough to be trusted with ammunition. I truly think that this is an overstep in power and violates the Second Amendment of our constitution.”

Charlene Lau with the Honolulu Police Department pointed out the proposed bill would be in conflict with an existing statute that allows licensed hunters and minors 16 and older, or under 16 accompanied by an adult, to carry firearms for hunting or target shooting.

An amendment was added to the bill that would allow those under 21 to handle ammunition if they were accompanied by an adult while hunting or at a shooting range.

The committee also passed a bill that would create the Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Department of the Attorney General for administrative purposes and repeal the Gun Violence and Violent Crimes Commission (GVVCC).

The Attorney General is opposed to the bill.

“Rather than establishing a new office, the Department believes it more prudent to consolidate GVVCC with the Criminal Justice Data Sharing Working Group, two state entities that already exist,” the attorney general’s office said in written testimony.

The money necessary for the bill would exceed the state general fund expenditure ceiling for fiscal year 2024-2025, according to the bill.

It would appropriate $150,000 to hire a director, grant writer, and analyst and cover operating costs and equipment for analyzing data relating to gun violence.

“The reasons for exceeding the general fund expenditure ceiling are that the appropriation made in this Act is necessary to serve the public interest and to meet the needs provided for by this Act,” the bill said.