By: José Niño
In a ruling made by United States District Judge Leslie Kobayashi, the Hawaii government can’t prohibit individuals with permits from carrying firearms in most parts of the state.
On August 8, 2023, Kobayashi granted the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against a law passed as a response to the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision made by the Supreme Court in the summer of 2022. This decision deemed the state’s previous restrictions on firearms carry as excessively restrictive.
Similarly, Judge Kobayashi determined in Wolford v. Lopez that the state’s new “sensitive places” restrictions on carrying firearms had no basis in the historical tradition of gun control — a standard that Bruen requires from here on out. In turn, this law violated the Second Amendment.
“[T]his Court finds that the balance of the equities and the public interest weigh in favor of issuing a TRO,” she wrote in the decision. “The public has an interest in preventing constitutional violations, and the State has not established a factual basis for the public safety concerns regarding permit-carrying gun-owners who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry a firearm in public.”
According to Stephen Gutowski of The Reload, this ruling against Hawaii’s “sensitive places” law is the latest example of post-Bruen carry regulations being overturned by federal courts over the last year.
In the Wolford v. Lopez ruling, Judge Kobayashi expressed her view about how Second Amendment cases should be decided using the Bruen test.
“Bruen’s directive is clear: once an individual’s conduct is covered by the plain text of the Second Amendment, the burden is on the government to establish that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” she wrote. “The exception being, of course, exclusion of firearms in traditionally ‘sensitive places.’ Then, and only then, is a gun regulation constitutional.”
The harsh reality is that Judge Kobayashi’s decision is one of the few ways that gun control can be reversed in deep-blue states such as Hawaii. Hawaii is ranked in 50th place according to Guns & Ammo magazine’s “Best States for Gun Owners.” With that in mind, it’s virtually impossible to pass legislative reforms to liberalize the state’s gun laws in a state where anti-gun Democrats dominate the state’s politics.
As a result, gun owners will have to rely on the courts to get the pro-gun changes they desire. Pro-gun reforms will sometimes have to be brought about by unconventional means.