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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 21, 2002

Gun applications rose 5. 2 percent in 2001

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

A total of 6,829 gun permit applications were processed statewide last year, an increase of 5.2 percent over 2000, according to a state attorney general's report released yesterday.

The second annual report, considered the most comprehensive in the state, results from a state law requiring county police departments to provide a monthly report of firearm registration activity.

The law was initiated partly in response to the fatal shootings at Xerox in 1999, said Paul Perrone, chief of research and statistics at the Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division of the attorney general's office.

Perrone said the increase in gun applications could be caused by a combination of seasonal trends and factors such as a perceived need for protection since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Gun applications spiked in October through December, Perrone said. But an even larger increase in gun applications was seen from August to October 2000, he said.

"Obviously, some people might think the increase was because of Sept. 11," Perrone said. "That might be the case, but you can't be sure."

Experts estimate there are 1 million registered guns in Hawai'i, Perrone said,. The estimate is based on a crime survey, police information, population trends and monthly registration data. There were 14,305 guns registered last year. In 2000, there were 13,617 guns registered.

Of the 6,829 applications processed in 2001, 94.3 percent were approved and resulted in permits; 3.7 percent were approved but voided after the applicants failed to return for their permits in time; and 2 percent were rejected. The proportions were essentially unchanged from those reported for 2000.

Last year, 2 percent of applications were rejected for reasons such as mental health or criminal histories, temporary restraining orders, certain juvenile offenses and other factors, such as non-citizen status or dishonorable discharge. Nationally the rejection rate was 2.5 percent in 2000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Perrone noted that Hawai'i's rejection rate is lower than the national rate, even though its background checks are more thorough.

"That means the other 98 percent of applicants (not rejected) have squeaky-clean records. The applicants in Hawai'i are as law-abiding as you will find."