The Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled against Christopher Wilson, a man charged with carrying a gun without a permit, asserting that under the state’s constitution, there is no right to bear arms in public.
This ruling overturns a lower court’s decision, which had aligned with Wilson’s Second Amendment defense, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022).
The lower court ruled that prosecuting Wilson would violate his Second Amendment rights.
Wilson’s arrest on December 7, 2017, in the West Maui Mountains for possessing a loaded handgun without a permit has become a focal point for a broader constitutional debate.
His legal defense, referencing the recent Bruen decision, was initially successful in the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit. However, the state’s supreme court’s decision to reverse this ruling, asserting that Hawaii does not recognize a constitutional right to carry firearms in public, strikes many as a blatant disregard for established federal jurisprudence on the Second Amendment.
“Article I, section 17 of the Hawaiʻi Constitution mirrors the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the Hawaiian court wrote in Hawaii v. Wilson, according to The Reload. “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.”
It added, “No doubt. Hawaiʻi’s historical tradition excludes an individual right to possess weapons. Hawaiʻi prohibited the public carry of lethal weapons – with no exceptions for licensed weapons – from 1833-1896. Unlicensed public carry of firearms has been illegal from 1896 to the present. Hawaiʻi has never recognized a right to carry deadly weapons in public; not as a Kingdom, Republic, Territory, or State.”
The Reload reported:
The ruling directly contrasts with the core holdings at the center of SCOTUS’s gun rights precedents. The state supreme court’s ruling explicitly rejects the federal supreme court’s findings in 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller and 2022’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.
The lower court’s straightforward rejection of the higher court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence could provoke SCOTUS to take up the case and issue a rebuke, as it did when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled protections don’t extend to modern weapons in 2016’s Caetano.
“There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms,” the majority wrote in Heller. Similarly, in Bruen, SCOTUS ruled “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”
SCOTUS also outlined a history-based test for whether gun laws are compatible with the protections offered by the Second Amendment.
“[W]e hold that when the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct,” the majority wrote in Bruen. “To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest. Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’
The Hawaiian judges argued that standard should be tossed out, citing a line from an HBO drama.
“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 Supreme Court of Hawaii’s stance is not just an outlier; it is a direct confrontation with the Supreme Court of the United States.
By declaring that the Second Amendment and its Hawaii Constitution counterpart do not protect an individual’s right to carry firearms in public, the state court has positioned itself in opposition to the interpretation of these rights by the highest court in the land.
Prominent voices like Charlie Kirk argue that this ruling not only misinterprets the U.S. Constitution but also sets a dangerous precedent by suggesting that state courts can selectively ignore the Supreme Court’s interpretations.
Charlie Kirk wrote on X, “The Hawaii Supreme Court has issued a ruling flagrantly ignoring the U.S. Constitution, holding that there is no right to bear arms in Hawaii and any resident may be imprisoned for carrying one.”
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held what the Constitution obviously says: That Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms. In D.C. vs. Heller (2008), they plainly stated this is an individual right, not a “collective right” (whatever that is). In McDonald vs. Chicago (2010), they held that his right applies to the states. In New York State Rifle and Pistol Assn. vs. Bruen (2020), they ruled that this right covers the public possession of handguns. But Hawaii’s court ignores all that, in favor of quoting HBO’s TV show “The Wire”: “The thing about the old days, they the old days.” Literally, that’s in the opinion.”
“The court also cites foreign laws, and Hawaii’s laws when it was still an independent kingdom, neither of which have any bearing on the state’s current laws or its obligations under the Constitution. In fact, the Hawaii Supreme Court essentially declares the entire Constitution null and void in their state, writing: “As the world turns, it makes no sense for society to pledge allegiance to the founding era’s culture, realities, laws, and understanding of the Constitution.” This is far more of a rebellion than anything that happened on January 6,” Kirk concluded.
The post Hawaii Supreme Court Controversially Rejects Second Amendment Right, Rules “In Hawaii, There is No State Constitutional Right to Carry a Firearm in Public” appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.