Citation(s) from the literature library

Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Background Check Procedures in Hawaii.’ Background Checks. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 23 June

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[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]

Background Checks in Hawaii

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state "point of contact" and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Hawaii is a point of contact state for NICS. In Hawaii, permits to acquire firearms are processed by local law enforcement.

In Hawaii, anyone wishing to acquire a firearm in Hawaii must first obtain a permit. A permit to acquire a handgun must be obtained for each handgun purchase; the permit is void if not used within ten days of issuance. A permit to acquire a long gun entitles the permittee to purchase long guns for a period of one year from the date of issue. Permit applications are processed directly through the county police chief, who must perform a search of NICS.

An applicant for a permit must sign a waiver authorizing the disclosure of mental health records. Hawaii requires any public health provider to disclose mental health records if the local chief of police requests them for use in issuing a permit to acquire a firearm, provided the applicant has signed the required waiver.

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. Holders of concealed weapons licenses and permits to acquire firearms in Hawaii are exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the federal Brady Act. Please note that ATF's exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.

Firearm transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are subject to the state's permitting requirement…

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