Maui County Hawaii – -(AmmoLand.com)- Aloha! The draconian sands of Hawaii have brought upon themselves yet another lawsuit revolving around the Second Amendment.
Hawaii, while conceivably the strictest, or at least one of the strictest states to illegally regulate the Second Amendment is having a hard time letting go. The matter of electric weapons (stun guns and tasers) has been brought up so much in the Aloha State that it’s getting really tiring.
What’s the latest assault on the Second Amendment?
This case involves Maui proper and the County thereof. Maui Ammo and Gun Supply et al v. Maui County et al was filed in response to the locality failing to comport with newly enacted state law. According to Hawaii Firearms Coalition (HIFCO), they have tried several times to come together with local officials about the implementation of the new law and the opening up of the sales up for electric weapons (stun guns and tasers).
The lawsuit is needed to force the County of Maui to start issuing electric gun dealers licenses. Without the licenses being issued, there are no legal means for anyone on Maui to purchase an electric gun. Hawaii’s new law was signed by the governor in July of last year and went into effect on January first of this year. Maui county decided that they didn’t need to have any process in place to allow dealers to sell them, completely ignoring the intent of the new law. We have tried to reach out to Maui County several times to get a process in place, even going as far as to speak to the mayor himself. But here we are 9 months after the law was passed, and not one taser has been sold on Maui due to their unwillingness to issue permits.
This is another deathblow that’ll be delivered by the powerhouse team of Alan Beck & Stephen Stamboulieh, who filed suit in the Federal Court for the District of Hawaii on March 30th, and they represent the following plaintiffs:
Maui Ammo and Gun Supply, Hawaii Firearms Coalition, Christy Gusman and HIFICO members on Maui.
From the complaint, we draw the same factual information about electric arms that we have in nearly every stun gun/taser case since Caetano. From the Statement of Facts, we succinctly get to the kernel of the debate:
Electric arms, including Tasers and stun guns, are also protected by the Second Amendment, and every court so far that has ruled on this issue has found a complete ban unconstitutional.
By Maui slow-walking the implementation of schemes to allow for the sale of electric weapons, they are subverting and infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of all the citizens of the county at large. In dealing with Maui County, its not just a matter of “Well, I guess I’ll go buy my stun gun or taser in another county.” Maui County consists of 5 islands, with only one, Molokaʻi, having 2 county jurisdictions on the physical island. Live on the island Maui? Too bad, so sad. It’s not like living on the mainland where heading a few miles away to another county is only a quick drive to your favorite dealer.
The complaint has several facets. First, there is the challenge that Maui has had since July of 2021 to figure out how to implement a new law on the sale and distribution of electric weapons. The former bill; HB891 A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO ELECTRIC GUNS, got a de facto signature of sorts, and became law without being signed by the governor, with the bill defaulting to law. This new law made the sale possession, and carry of electric weapons legal in the Aloha state as of January 1st, 2022. As of writing this, there is no mechanism to allow dealers to sell electric weapons in the county of Maui. The other issues revolve around proposed legislation in the county regulating the sale of the arms, with gross imposition being placed on dealers in the way of insurance. Per the complaint:
Maui County Council included in this Ordinance that “[e]ach licensee must obtain and keep current at all times throughout the duration of the license period a commercial general liability policy with the following minimum limits and coverages placed with an insurance carrier authorized to do business in the State of Hawai‘i with a minimum AM Best credit rating of A–VII.”30.
Then, the Council included that the policy licensed electric arms dealers will be required to purchase is a “primary commercial general liability policy with $2,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 annual aggregate, which must include a duty to defend the County if the County is sued as a result of the licensee’s business operations.”
Additionally, the council will require “[a]n umbrella policy written on a ‘following for’” basis with $2,000,000 per occurrence and $3,000,000 annual aggregate.” This Ordinance is aimed at dealers in electric arms, which as the Council discussed, are generally regarded as less than lethal weapons. However, this insurance requirement is so far out of the normal, it will be extremely expensive, if it can even be obtained, and is an attempt to effectuate a ban on electric arms through requirements that cannot be met.
Thus, Defendants’ insurance requirement is not sufficiently tailored to a governmental interest.
And finally, the County wants “[t]he County, its officers, and employees must be named as an additional insured under the licensee with a duty to defend the County from any claims arising from the license to sell and the use of electric guns or cartridges.”
The Maui County Council seems to be trying to run interference on this topic. One report put councilmembers on the record by claiming the suit was just frivolous, and further just a stunt for HIFCO et.al. to be able to take credit for the implementation of ordinances they are bound by law to create.
Deputy Corporation Counsel Keola Whittaker during Friday’s meeting alleged that the groups want to take credit for forcing the council’s hand. “I suspect the lawsuit was only filed so that gun-rights organizations and its members can take credit for an ordinance that you were going to pass anyway,” Whittaker said. “To be frank, chair, it’s sad that a pro-gun group wants to cost the taxpayers of Maui County money by filing an unnecessary and frivolous lawsuit that will be moot in a matter of weeks just for their own political gain.”
Council Vice Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said members are going through proper motions to follow state law. “Mahalo to our attorneys for calling it out for what it is,” she said. “And shame on Maui Ammo and Gun Supply, Hawaii Firearms Coalition and Christy Gusman for this frivolous lawsuit wasting our taxpayer dollars.”
The meeting being discussed in the Maui Now piece, AmmoLand News was told by one of the plaintiffs involved during an interview, Christy Gusman, that several members of HIFCO and some of the plaintiffs were not granted access to participate in the online council meeting. When they tried to sign in to be able to bring forward their concerns, their access was denied.
After reading through the Statement of Facts and complaint in it’s entirety, AmmoLand News reached out to the Council to further elaborate on their comments, the blocking of citizens’ rights to petition their government, and the suit as a whole. In part they were queried:
From: John Petrolino <[redacted]>
To: “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>; “[email protected]” <[email protected]>
Sent: Sunday, April 3, 2022, 02:04:18 AM CDT
Subject: Seeking Comment on Electric Weapons Law
The comment I’d like further explanation on from the article is:
Council Vice Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said members are going through proper motions to follow state law.
“Mahalo to our attorneys for calling it out for what it is,” she said. “And shame on Maui Ammo and Gun Supply, Hawaii Firearms Coalition and Christy Gusman for this frivolous lawsuit wasting our taxpayer dollars.”
The law from HB891 A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO ELECTRIC GUNS passed into law July of 2021, nearly a year ago. How can the council make the statement that this suit is frivolous when you as a group and individuals had six full months to implement a law which would allow for the sale of electric weapons? To date, are the residents of Maui county able to purchase electric weapons?
My second question to the council, as a whole, or as individuals, revolves something else my office was alerted to. It was communicated to me that several members of HIFCO and some of the plaintiffs in Maui Ammo and Gun Supply et al v. Maui County et al were blocked from being able to attend a virtual council meeting. Can you please talk to that? I was given screen shots as evidence of these citizens not being allowed to petition the council on any of their grievances. Why were these individuals not allowed access to the meeting – to be able to participate?
And finally, after reading the complaint it is alleged that proposed law would create undue burden upon those seeking to sell electric arms. If you can’t speak to this, I understand, but what is the justification for requiring large insurance polices to those that sell these constitutionally protected arms? Why is there inclusion of the council on said insurance polices?
Is the council willing to make a distinction between electric arms and conventional firearms that requires a higher threshold of being able to sell a less than lethal option over a lethal one?
AmmoLand News reached out to Gusman, and she clearly has the right intentions. She had the following commentary to offer on the filing and how the council has behaved:
Our county council is preventing the ability of law abiding citizens to defend themselves and I’m saddened that they have chosen to condemn and harass us for exercising our constitutional rights. Hawaii’s economy continues to grow and recover from CV19, we face an increase in crime and a shortage in police officers. Yet the County Council ignores the law and refuses the people the right to defend themselves. The bill that they passed yesterday [April 1st] still has 2 more readings to go and has restrictions that will make it nearly impossible for gun stores to sell the device. Even if passed, the new ordnance will most likely take until the end of the year before it takes effect and gets implemented by county finance and police departments. County council in a hearing yesterday [April 1st] called the lawsuit frivolous, and called each of us out by name saying things like “shame on you Christy Gusman for wasting tax payer money” while blocking us from participating in public testimony.
Gusman further stated:
As a victim of a assault a few years ago, I pray people wake up and that these council members, most whom are women, don’t have to be in a situation like [I was in]…[causing them to] regret the decisions they are making today.
Given the long track record with anything concerning the Second Amendment and Hawaii, we can be inclined to accept what we’re being told by Gusman and the complaint documents. Had Hawaii as a State, and or the jurisdictions within had a history of promptly owning when they’re being called out on unconstitutional provisions in the law, perhaps we could take what the Council has to say a bit more serious. But never has anything come out of Hawaii concerning freedom occurred without the authorities kicking and screaming as they were forced to follow the Constitution.
Attorney Alan Beck weighed in on the case and tends to agree with this summation:
The proposed ordinance puts a undue burden on the rights of Maui residents and is blatantly unconstitutional.
The members of the Maui County Council can be viewed HERE, and deserve to be called out by name. Shame on the council members for their dereliction of duty and the chilling of the citizens’ First & Second Amendment rights: Alice L. Lee, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, Tasha Kama, Gabe Johnson, Kelly Takaya King, Mike Molina, Tamara Paltin, Shane Sinenci, and Yuki Lei Sugimura.
It’s awful to have a governmental body so grossly violate peoples’ constitutional rights in this manner. We’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of this suit and any other unconstitutional dereliction of duty the Maui Council engages in. The Council, as individuals, or as a whole failed to respond to AmmoLand’s request for comment. We received one automated response from Tasha A. Kama noting the receipt of our query.
About John Petrolino
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino, facebook at @thepenpatriot and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .