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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, April 14, 2002

Hawai'i' is doing fine without hidden arms

The National Rifle Association and gun-rights groups are celebrating an appeals court ruling in Ohio that reverses that state's ban on concealed weapons.

"We've created a blueprint for potential lawsuits in other states," said Dave LaCourse, a spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation, which fueled the challenge to Ohio's law.

Well, LaCourse needn't bother with Hawai'i.

Strict gun control laws have helped the Aloha State boast one of the lower per-capita gun death rates in the nation. It's illegal to carry concealed weapons without a hard-to-get permit from the police chief.

Now some believe those laws are grossly unfair in the wake of Sept. 11 and the Xerox shooting massacre in 1999, and that every citizen should have a right to arm himself for protection.

Some studies, most notably by John Lott, argue that right-to-carry jurisdictions have less crime. Then there are competing studies that show that when you relax concealed-weapons laws, shooting deaths increase.

Studies can go on forever. Just imagine the tension in the Islands if people could gain easy access to firearms and stash them in holsters, purses, backpacks and briefcases. Road rage, workplace rage, campus rage and domestic rage could easily explode into gunfire.

A three-judge panel on the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals has ruled that a concealed-weapons ban violates the state constitution, declaring that the "people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security."

That Ohio statute appears to go beyond the Second Amendment assertion that "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, that section refers to the states' rights to maintain and train a militia. That's why we have gun-control laws that the courts have upheld against Second Amendment challenges.

The Second Amendment Foundation has given Hawai'i an 'F' on its gun freedom index. We say the 'F' stands for freedom from gun violence.