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Hawaii Supreme Court Dismisses SCOTUS and US Constitution

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Aloha written in sand

In layman’s terms: A Hawaii State Supreme Court ruling says individuals have no right to keep and bear arms in public, in direct defiance of the Supreme Court.

On February 7, the Supreme Court for the State of Hawaii issued a ruling on a Second Amendment subject that is stunning in its blatant defiance of previous Supreme Court rulings and instructions.

The case, known as State of Hawaii v. Wilson, stems from charges brought against Christopher Wilson in 2017 for having an unregistered pistol. Wilson challenged these charges as being unconstitutional. Subsequently the Second Circuit (each island of Hawaii has its own state-level circuit court) court dismissed the charges, agreeing with Wilson. The State appealed the dismissal.

The allegedly violated laws include “place to keep” charges for both ammunition and the pistol he was carrying, both of which were dismissed by the Circuit Court. Wilson, however, also sought standing to challenge Hawaii’s concealed carry law (which effectively issued nearly zero permits prior to Bruen), which the state rejected by virtue of the fact he had not applied for a concealed carry permit – a futile act. Our readers in New Jersey will understand the similar nature of the law there pre-Bruen.

The defiant tone of the decision is laid out in the very first couple of sentences:

Article I, section 17 of the Hawaiʻi Constitution mirrors the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. We read those words differently than the current United States Supreme Court. We hold that in Hawaiʻi there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public.

In one of the next paragraphs, the Court dismisses numerous Supreme Court case law precedents with a virtual wave of its hand:

We reject Wilson’s constitutional challenges. Conventional interpretive modalities and Hawaiʻi’s historical tradition of firearm regulation rule out an individual right to keep and bear arms under the Hawaiʻi Constitution. In Hawaiʻi, there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public.

The Court then arrogantly affirms exactly what decisions it disagrees with in another astonishing statement:

Bruen, McDonald, Heller, and other cases show how the [Supreme] Court handpicks history to make its own rules.

The Court then spends a significant number of pages discussing militias and employs the same tortured logic to argue that the Second Amendment is not an individual right, but a collective right:

Until Heller, the Supreme Court had never ruled that the Second Amendment afforded an individual right to keep and bear arms. Because the Second Amendment provided a collective right, most states conferred an individual right through their constitutions…. The original public purpose of article I, section 17 (and the Second Amendment) also supports a collective, military interpretation…. We conclude that the authors and ratifiers of the Hawaiʻi Constitution imagined a collective right.

And then the Court takes a direct shot at Bruen, which instructed that states are to look to the time of the founding (1791) when looking for analogues for gun control:

Time-traveling to 1791 or 1868 to collar how a state regulates lethal weapons – per the Constitution’s democratic design – is a dangerous way to look at the federal constitution. The Constitution is not a “suicide pact.”

The following statement found on page 40 of the decision is incredible for two reasons. The first is that its arrogant stance is to simultaneously dismiss the well-documented founding era history, and at the same time uphold and cite the history of Hawaii, prior to it becoming a state in 1959. The second is that the Court actually quotes a TV show.

As the world turns, it makes no sense for contemporary society to pledge allegiance to the founding era’s culture, realities, laws, and understanding of the Constitution. “The thing about the old days, they the old days.” The Wire: Home Rooms (HBO television broadcast Sept. 24, 2006) (Season Four, Episode Three).

The Court attempts to employ the tired “public safety” argument which Bruen instructed cannot be used, but with a unique twist – reference to a law called “Law of the Splintered Paddle” enacted by the first King of Hawaii in the late 1700s. This law is of course not relevant as Hawaii was not only an un-unified nation at the time, but was only annexed by the United States in 1898, and not granted statehood until 1959. Nevertheless, the Court argues that Hawaii has a long history of regulating dangerous weapons.

The decision begins its wrapup with an unusual context that seems to have been invented by the Court:

In Hawaiʻi, the Aloha Spirit inspires constitutional interpretation.

The State court vacated the circuit court’s Order Granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Counts 1 & 2 and remanded the case to the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit.

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