While most states (and even Washington, D.C.) are taking big steps forward in defense of gun rights, the liberal stronghold of Hawaii is considering taking a giant leap back by entering gun owners into an FBI database that automatically notifies authorities if a state resident is arrested anywhere else in the country:
Most people entered in the “Rap Back” database elsewhere in the U.S. are those in “positions of trust,” such as school teachers and bus drivers, said Stephen Fischer of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. Hawaii could be the first state to add gun owners.
“I don’t like the idea of us being entered into a database. It basically tells us that they know where the guns are, they can go grab them” said Jerry Ilo, a firearm and hunting instructor for the state. “We get the feeling that Big Brother is watching us.”
State Sen. Will Espero (D-Honolulu) introduced the law, and supporters argue that it will establish Hawaii as a leader in gun safety. However, opponents of the legislation recognize it as an egregious violation of Second Amendment rights:
Yet others say gun owners shouldn’t have to be entered in a database to practice a constitutional right.
“You’re curtailing that right by requiring that a name be entered into a database without doing anything wrong,” said Kenneth Lawson, faculty at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law.
“This is an extremely dangerous bill. Exercising a constitutional right is not inherently suspicious,” said Amy Hunter for the National Rifle Association. “Hawaii will now be treating firearms as suspect and subject to constant monitoring.”
But if curtailing the rights of lawful gun owners isn’t bad enough, here’s the kicker: the law was apparently introduced to compensate for the fact that Hawaii is failing to perform adequate background checks on gun purchases:
Even though other states don’t enter gun owners in the database, Honolulu Police Department Maj. Richard Robinson said it will still benefit Hawaii police. Right now, Hawaii gun owners undergo a background check only when they register a gun, so police have no way of knowing if they’re disqualified from owning a gun in the future unless they try to register a new firearm.
“We were only discovering things by accident,” said Robinson, who helped draft the bill. “They happen to come register another firearm, we run another background check, and then we find out they’re a prohibited person.”
That happens about 20 times each year, he said.
How about Hawaii starts running background checks on purchases before it throws everyone into an FBI database? Just a thought.