By: José Niño
These days, it’s not often that courts get something right.
This summer has not been the best for gun owners as far Supreme Court cases go. Many were disappointed back in Junewhen the SCOTUS refused to take up several Second Amendment related cases.
Despite the setbacks at the federal level, gun owners recently gained a high-profile victory in the lower courts. And it came from one of the most unexpected places. On August 14, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court overturned California’s prohibition on firearm magazines of more than ten rounds by a 2-1 vote, on the grounds that the law violates the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. For many conservatives, the Ninth Circuit has been a leftist thorn in their side. But in this case, the court made a surprisingly solid ruling.
Since the ruling, gun owners in other states with similar bans have stepped up to challenge these infringements. The Hawaii Firearms Coalition filed its own lawsuit against Hawaii’s magazine ban. It read as follows:
Honolulu, Hawaii. August 20th, 2020. Yesterday evening Attorney Alan Beck on behalf of Hawaii Firearms Coalition director Jon Abbott and two other Hawaii residents (Kevin Kacatin and Soleil Roache), filed a lawsuit in the US District Court of Hawaii.
The lawsuit alleges that Hawaii's ban on Handgun magazines with a capacity greater than ten rounds in unconstitutional. HRS 134-8(c) bans the possession of any magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds. The plaintiffs in the case have all stated that if it were not for Hawaii's ban, they would seek to and would own magazines with a larger capacity. Currently, if they were to be found in possession and using said magazines, they would be charged with a Class C felony.
The recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court in Duncan v. Becerra supports this lawsuit. In that case, the court found that; millions of ammunition magazines able to hold more than 10 rounds are in common use by law-abiding responsible citizens for lawful uses like self-defense. As such, they are protected by the second amendment and can not be subject to a categorical ban.
Applying the same logical steps used by the 9th Circuit Court in Duncan, Hawaii's law is likely to be found unconstitutional. In recent years Hawaii's Firearms Coalition has asked legislators to amend Hawaii's law to remove the capacity based ban, but legislators have been unwilling to do so. The only available course of action left is to have it removed by the courts.
Hawaii is an anti-gun bastion through and through. Back in 2019, the state introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) No.42, that would have called on Congress to repeal the Second Amendment. Hawaii was also one of the first states to ban bump stocks in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. Even though Hawaii doesn’t have universal gun registration at the moment, it does mandate all firearm buyers acquire a permit for the purposes of buying any firearm following the issuance of a background check. For its repeated disrespect towards the Second Amendment rights of its constituents, Hawaii was given a 48th place ranking by Guns & Ammo magazine in its list of “Best States for Gun Owners.”
In all likelihood, gun owners in Hawaii will have to turn to the courts to roll back some of the unconstitutional encroachments on their right to self-defense. Litigation is just one of many tools gun owners can use to fight against gun control. All hope is not lost when one recognizes the number of avenues available to make changes on gun policy a reality.
José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.