Honolulu mayor aims to sign bill limiting concealed guns

Mar. 18—Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he plans to sign into law a ban on concealed firearms in 13 "sensitive places " across Oahu after the City Council this week passed Bill 57.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he plans to sign into law a ban on concealed firearms in 13 "sensitive places " across Oahu after the City Council this week passed Bill 57.

"Absolutely, " Blangiardi replied when asked whether he would sign the measure into law, during a Friday appearance on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's.

Blangiardi also said the city will provide signage to businesses and facilities to indicate whether concealed weapons are allowed on the premises or prohibited. The list of sensitive places includes schools and child care facilities, hospitals, public transit, polling places, businesses that serve alcohol and "large public gatherings, including protests."

Council member Augie Tulba was one of three members who voted against Bill 57 because "it's too broad, " he told the Star-Advertiser on Friday. "I would never carry a gun, but I believe in the Constitution. But as an American we have the right to defend ourselves."

Bill 57 was a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June that limits states' abilities to restrict the carrying of concealed firearms in its ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, Superintendent of New York State Police. The ruling overturned New York's state law that required a license in order to carry a concealed weapon in public.

Tulba called the city's response "hysterical."

"I'm expecting some lawsuits and we're strapped for money, " he said.

Asked which of the 13 places he thinks concealed firearms should not be allowed, Tulba said he agrees with "the majority of them "—and definitely with a ban on firearms in schools. "Of course not, " he said.

But in a "challenging situation, " Tulba said that a person with a weapon "can make a difference."

During the Council's consideration of Bill 57, written testimony from a number of residents who oppose the restrictions disputed its constitutionality and said the city is going to find itself on the end of losing court battles.

"The restricted places in the bill are overly broad and unconstitutional. ... You are wasting our tax dollars, " wrote Ryan Arakawa.

Bernardo Soriano said the bill's intent to make certain places safer from gun violence might actually have the opposite effect.

"As law abiding citizens who have undergone the high scrutiny /screening of acquiring a firearm and licensing to carry a firearm, this bill aims to turn us into criminals. We have a constitutional right to protect ourselves and our loved ones from potentially violent crimes and that can occur anywhere at anytime, " he wrote in testimony.

"There is no data to support increasing sensitive places increases public safety. This bill is based on emotions more than facts."

Blangiardi said the court's ruling allows counties to make their own restrictions, a position he said was supported by the city Department of the Corporation Counsel.

"We do have a right to say where they can " carry concealed weapons, he said.

The mayor said he told Deputy Corporation Counsel Daniel Gluck, who previously served as legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii and led the state Ethics Commission, "I want to be as aggressive on this as we possibly can with respect to protecting people, at the same knowing we have a responsibility to uphold the Supreme Court and people's basic Second Amendment rights. The sensitive places for me makes common sense."

Blangiardi said he doesn't have time for "anybody telling me why they've got to take a gun into a church or a school or a hospital or a public gathering. I just don't get that."

Support for Bill 57 before the Council was "overwhelming, " he added.

"The amount of people that came in to protest versus the overwhelming support we got from the majority of people everywhere on this island from all kinds of groups in support of sensitive places so far overwhelms. And that tells me our society doesn't want (firearms in sensitive places ). This is about protecting the public and keeping the public from harm."

The Honolulu Police Department has received about 700 concealed-carry applications from fewer than 500 people, he said. So far, fewer than 40 have been approved.