Hawaii Court Dismisses Two Firearms Charges Citing Bruen Decision

Oral Arguments for En Banc Review of Young v. Hawaii on 24 September, 2020
Oral Arguments for En Banc Review of Young v. Hawaii on 24 September, 2020

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-— On December 6, 2017, about an hour before midnight, Maui police were called about suspected trespassers on a trail controlled by Flyin Hawaii Zip Lines.

The police did not explore the trail or look for trespassers. They waited for the owner of Flyin Hawaii Zip Lines, armed with an AR15-style rifle, to search the trail and locate those accused of trespassing.  From an August 22, 2022 article in Mauinews.com:

Wilson, 46, had faced the felony charge of keeping a firearm in an improper place and the misdemeanor charge of keeping ammunition in an improper place after he was arrested Dec. 7, 2017.

Police were called after the owner of Flyin Hawaii Zip Lines in the West Maui Mountains was alerted at 11 p.m. Dec. 6, 2017, that trespassers had entered the property, according to information in court records.

Police waited on the roadside while the owner, who was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, and an employee located three hikers who told police they were hiking to look at the moon and native plants, according to the information.

Upon information from the accused trespassers, the owner and an employee searched again and brought out Christopher Wilson. Wilson told police he had a .22 caliber handgun in his waistband. Wilson was arrested in the early morning hours on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2017.

On August 17, 2022, over four years and eight months later, the trial judge, Kirsten Hamman, dismissed the felony charge for keeping a firearm in an improper place and the misdemeanor charge of keeping ammunition in an improper place, citing the June 22, 2022, Supreme Court decision in Bruen.

An inquiry to the public defender about what motions might have kept the case from trial did not receive a reply in time for this writing. From an October 19, 2022 article in Mauinews.com:

After a hiker said others might be on the private trail, the owner went back to search and returned about 10 minutes later with Wilson, who told police he had a handgun in his front waistband that he was carrying for self-defense, according to the court information.

Police reported recovering a .22-caliber handgun loaded with a 10-round magazine.

In an Aug. 17 ruling, 2nd Circuit Judge Kirstin Hamman granted a defense request to dismiss the two charges.

The ruling said Wilson “was carrying the firearm on the trail for self-defense purposes — conduct protected by the Second Amendment.”

Judge Kirsten Hamman, Hawaii, assumed office on October 29, 2021, less than a year before the Second Amendment claim was made, and more than three years after the alleged offense occurred.

Here is the oath of office for Hawaii officeholders, which applies to Judge Kirsten. Hawaii oath of office:

“I,……………, do solemnly swear and declare, on oath that if elected to office I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and the Constitution and laws of the State of Hawaii, and will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that if elected I will faithfully discharge my duties as…..(name of office)……………to the best of my ability; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; So help me God.”

On September 22, 2022, Maui County Prosecutor Richard Rost appealed the decision. From postuszero.com:

Maui County Assistant District Attorney Richard Rost appealed the dismissal to the Intermediate Court of Appeals on September 22.

In the same article, the public defender for Wilson, Ben Lowenthal, makes an unusual claim. He seems to suggest prosecutors should drop the case because it may be a good test case to restore rights protected by the Second Amendment:

 “Mr. Wilson’s constitutional rights to keep and bear arms in self-defense extend beyond the home. Maui prosecutors seem eager to explore and uncover the contours of this right. They risk a flood of constitutional challenges around the state that could repeal our gun laws and make us all less safe,” he said.

Ben Lowenthal appears to lean left. In 2020, he was one of the finalists on a short list to be appointed to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Christopher Wilson still faces misdemeanor charges of first-degree criminal trespass and failure to obtain a permit to acquire a firearm.

Hawaii has some of the most restrictive firearm laws in the USA. The requirements for carry permits are already under judicial scrutiny.

Numerous restrictive firearms laws are being challenged across the United States. The Bruen decision by the Supreme Court shows the way for courts to restore rights protected by the Second Amendment.

A challenge to the requirement to obtain a permit in order to acquire a firearm is in process in Maryland in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A related case exists in Illinois, where a challenge to the Firearms Owners IDentification card (FOID) is ongoing.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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Ram

It is almost biblical, the problem with paradise is smart-ass snakes
in opposition to original intent.

Roland T. Gunner

Adam should have stayed with Lillith, rather than shacking up with Eve.

Lillith was better in bed anyway.

Desert Rat

This just shows that man will give up almost anything for a piece of ass.

linkman

If Hawaii had actually issued carry permits on a shall-issue basis they might have had cases against these two. On the other hand, if they actually issued permits then the two might have obtained them and there would nothing for HI to prosecute. The state won’t be successful in prosecuting Wilson for failure to obtain a then impossible-to-obtain permit.

swmft

they are going to keep loosing in court and with luck someone will arrest the police for title 18 242 violations, first jailed sherif anywhere will fix this

Roland T. Gunner

I am, literally, the most far-right, Conservative citizen I have ever known, especially regarding 2A; but this court ruling would codify and protect the bearing of arms while comitting a crime, trespassing, on someone elses property.

Point being, punish the crime, not posession of a firearm.

And I guess I am ok with that, as long as the property owner is similarly protected, both physically and legally. ie, you are trespassing on my property, and you have a gun, it’s cool; till it clears leather or swings my way, and I drop your ass, and everything’s good in Mudville.

Watch um

I don’t think so, but it remains to be seen.

Hazcat

“I am, literally, the most far-right, Conservative citizen I have ever known, especially regarding 2A; but… ” That word nullifies all proceeding statements.

Laddyboy

The “but” nullifies the entire comment and makes the commenter a “BUTT”. I have to agree that tresspassing is the only thing here that can be prosecuted — IF ENOUGH SIGNAGE was posted!

Bob

Screw the damned sineage! The trespasser knows he’s trespassing. Those trails, ziplines and gravel roads show they are owned by someone.

Raconteur

His “but” should be an “and”.

TStheDeplorable

The requirement of a permit to possess a firearm was “MAYBE” justified prior to the computer age, but no longer. Before these days when a police officer an instantly determine someone’s legal status regarding firearms possession (i.e. felon or not), it used to require a manual check of paper records at a central repository to know if someone was a felon. Having such a check done as a prerequisite to exercising the right, and then requiring the carrying of a card that said in effect that you were not a convicted felon, was said to be justifiable as the most… Read more »

Desert Guy

How dare a court use a moderate SCOTUS decision for guidance!