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Hawaii Cannot Ban Guns on Beaches, US Judge Rules

Aug 9 (Reuters) – A federal judge has blocked the state of Hawaii from enforcing a recently enacted ban on firearms on its prized beaches and in other areas including banks, bars and parks, citing last year’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi in Honolulu on Tuesday concluded that the prohibitions likely infringed on the rights of permit-carrying gun owners to carry firearms in public under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Those restrictions were enacted after the conservative-majority Supreme Court in June 2022 declared for the first time that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of a person’s right to “keep and bear arms” protects an individual’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.

That decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, announced a new test for assessing firearms laws, saying restrictions must be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The ruling prompted Hawaiian lawmakers to pass a bill that Democratic Governor Josh Green signed into law in June that sought to comply with the decision while deterring gun violence by barring firearms in “sensitive places.”

The measure was challenged by three Hawaii residents and the gun rights group Hawaii Firearms Coalition.

The state argued the law was consistent with historical gun regulations and served a state interest in protecting public safety.

But while Kobayashi acknowledged the important role beaches play in Hawaii’s economy, “the state does not provide any evidence that this nation has a historical tradition of regulating or prohibiting the carrying of firearms on beaches.”

Kobayashi, an appointee of Democratic then-President Barack Obama, said Hawaii’s ban on guns in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol likewise failed due to the “confounding” and “curious” way the Supreme Court defined what constitutes a “historical tradition” of gun regulation.

“We profoundly disagree with this decision and will request that the decision be put on hold pending further proceedings,” First Deputy Hawaii Attorney General Matt Dvonch said in a statement.

Alan Beck, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, hailed the judge’s temporary restraining order, saying Kobayashi “faithfully applied Supreme Court precedent and came to the correct result.”

Source : Reuters