Suit Challenges Hawaii’s Denial of American Samoan’s Right to Own Gun

These U.S. Nationals don't even qualify to apply for a gun in Hawaii. (American Samoa Government/Facebook)

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- A July 27 lawsuit, filed by attorney Alan Beck in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for Honolulu County resident Alanoa Nickel, denied the ability to apply for a permit to own a handgun by Hawaiian law. The complaint names State Attorney General Clare E. Connors, State Sheriff Division Administrator Al Cummings, and the City and County of Honolulu as defendants.

Hawaii Revised Statute § 134-2 restricts non-citizen U.S. nationals from owning firearms, the memorandum in support of motion for preliminary injunction notes. Nickel is a Samoan, from a U.S. territory.

“American Samoans are the only ones affected by this law because people born in the other territories are considered U.S. citizens,” the memorandum explains. “Plaintiff is a law-abiding U.S. National, a resident of the State of Hawaii and has no disqualifying factor which would prohibit him from legally and safely owning a firearm apart from being a noncitizen U.S. National.”

“American Samoan noncitizen U.S. Nationals, such as Plaintiff, are part of the ‘people,’” the memorandum reminds the court.

Further, Nickel “is an honorably discharged veteran of the Air National Guard,” and per U.S. Code:

“The term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.

It’s tough to owe permanent allegiance to a government that denies your basic human rights. Yet in spite of that, the memorandum further points out (and documents):

“American Samoa is noted for having the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory. As of September 9, 2014, the local U.S. Army recruiting station in Pago Pago was ranked first in production out of the 885 Army recruiting stations and centers under the United States Army Recruiting Command.”

What's more, in 2019, a federal judge in Utah ruled that American Samoans are U.S. citizens by birth. (The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to make that apply throughout.)

Still, it’s not like American Samoa’s gun laws are any better than Hawaii’s. All guns owned must be licensed (curiously, the federal Brady Act applies) and there are no provisions to carry for defense. Also curiously, per HandgunLaw.us:

“American Samoa Residents can carry in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi. Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. These states allow anyone who can legally possess a firearm to carry it concealed without any type of permit/license.”

Fixing the problems in American Samoa (and other U.S. territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands) are issues for other efforts seeing as how “shall not be infringed” is not limited to territories, but routinely ignored throughout the Republic wherever “gun laws” establish prohibitions and prior restraints on the general citizenry. The scope of this issue is limited to Nickel’s challenge and the State of Hawaii has no excuse for perpetuating such blatant discriminatory denial of rights.

That the state government does not take it upon itself to fix this without the need for a lawsuit to force a correction tells us much about the character of those presuming themselves to be in charge of the rights of others.

Tangentially related: Young Case against Hawaii Carry Ban Finally Moving Forward


About David Codrea:David Codrea

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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Ram
Ram
1 month ago

It is my understanding that Hawaii is a predominately Democrat
controlled state. Marxists, aren’t fond of citizens finding their way
to their rights under the constitution. To a Democrat, the very concept
of individual liberty, is a giant step away from their intended goals.

Camotim
Camotim
1 month ago

This is profoundly racist.

SEMPAI
SEMPAI
1 month ago
Reply to  Camotim


How is that comment racist ? Your fishing off the deep side of the boat there.

chiefton
chiefton
1 month ago
Reply to  SEMPAI

I do not believe he said the comment is racist, he is saying the actions of Hawaii are racist.

SEMPAI
SEMPAI
1 month ago
Reply to  chiefton

Ummmm okay thank you chiefton I did not perceive it as such .

Rebel VA
Rebel VA
1 month ago
Reply to  Camotim

Explain!

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Camotim

Unless Hawaii has changed since I lived there for three years, it is still a totally racist state, at least Oahu. When we moved there, my now ex was unable to find a job as an accomplished dental assistant. My daughter, a blond haired blue eyed haouli, came home from school every night crying her eyes out from the racist rants she received from her Japanese/American(?) teacher. All my pleas went unheard. The same holds true for African Americans. They’re suppressed the same. The one good(?) that came from it is my daughter knows first hand what prejudice feels like… Read more »

Tionico
Tionico
1 month ago

Sad that folks from AMERICAN Samoa can serve in our military, be US NAtionals, and yet some states relegate them to slave status. (the ability to go about armed is a key distinction between slaves and free men). We’ve watched Hawaii play the Big Nannie for far too long. Those holders of public office swear the same oath to FAITHFULLY apply the US and their State Constitutons to their political activities. Searing a solemn oath then wilfulyl failing to uphold that oath is felony perjury. WHEN will some chief law enforcement officers” within their jurisdictions begin applying that law? If… Read more »

Mack
Mack
1 month ago
Reply to  Tionico

We are all American Samoans now.

Mike Crognale
Mike Crognale
1 month ago

My elderly aunt lives in Honolulu. My Uncle is buried in the Punch Bowl cemetery. He would be highly angered knowing the state he loved Has become another hot bed of demokkkrat treason and sedition. The slaves in what used to be a free state voted for this. Sad.

Ryben Flynn
Ryben Flynn
1 month ago

Hawaii needs to be fixed, too. No Carry Permits have been issued in at least 6 years now. And if one is issued, it is only good in the County it was issued.

Finnky
Finnky
1 month ago

Shouldn’t writing laws like this qualify as resigning US citizenship? They are blatantly and deliberately attempting to subvert our constitution. One stripped of citizenship, they can no longer serve in state or federal legislatures and I imagine be deported by ICE. Not sure where ICE could send them as they have no other nationality, however ive Got no problem with providing each of the ex-politicians with a dingy and several days worth of food and water before releasing them midway between CA & HI. If they reach land they’ll be welcome to apply for immigration.

GUNFUN
GUNFUN
1 month ago
Reply to  Finnky

I am going through the constitutional literacy course taught by Michael Farris and have begun considering forcing all Americans at age 21 to swear to uphold the constitution. Just like immigrants and politicians do.

If you fail, get on the bus.

Oldman
Oldman
1 month ago
Reply to  GUNFUN

I just started reading Hannity’s latest book and if things keep going this this way we are in the midst of our 2nd revolutionary war. Trump 2024!

chiefton
chiefton
1 month ago
Reply to  Oldman

Right now it is only the level headedness of the Republican voters who are stopping it from happening. Their patience does have an end point though.

D. L.
D. L.
1 month ago
Reply to  GUNFUN

Only problem is many politicians swear to uphold the constitution BUT NEVER keep their oath. We’ve become too dependant to our “Bread and Circuses” to hold those politicians who are oath breakers accountable. I fear the United States is going the way of the Roman Empire.

Mack
Mack
1 month ago

Thanks for this. Would not have known otherwise.