Hawaii restrictions on gun carrying (essentially) held unconstitutional — for now

March 20, 2014

The case is Baker v. Kealoha (9th Cir. Mar. 20, 2014), and it’s unsurprising: The same Ninth Circuit panel struck down the California restrictions on gun carrying last month in Peruta v. County of San Diego, and the Hawaii restrictions are in important respects similar to the California ones — both basically bar people from having guns to defend themselves in public places (unless they have licenses that can be issued or not at the discretion of local law enforcement, and that are in many places very hard to get). The Baker decision says that it “remand[s] for further proceedings consistent with Peruta, but the writing is on the wall.

Of course, if the Ninth Circuit agrees to rehear Peruta en banc and then reverses it, or if the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Peruta and then reverses it, then the foundation for the Baker decision will be reversed, too. And if the defendants in Baker petition the Ninth Circuit for rehearing or the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari (and get a stay of the Ninth Circuit’s judgment in the meantime), then the Baker decision won’t have to be implemented until all those proceedings are over. So there’s still a ways to go, I suspect, before Hawaii goes “shall-issue,” so that any law-abiding adult can get a license to carry concealed (or, if the Hawaii Legislature so decides, can carry openly).

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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