Hawaii authorities accept firearms, no questions asked

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Oct. 22—State officials partnered with Honolulu police Saturday to create two safe spaces on Oahu that accepted 494 unwanted firearms in exchange for Foodland gift cards, no questions asked.

State officials partnered with Honolulu police Saturday to create two safe spaces on Oahu that accepted 494 unwanted firearms in exchange for Foodland gift cards, no questions asked.

Starting at 10 a.m. and continuing until 5 p.m., the state Department of Law Enforcement and Department of Public Safety partnered with Gov. Josh Green, state Attorney General Anne E. Lopez, the Department of Health, the Department of Transportation and the Honolulu Police Department to run a community gun buyback.

The amnesty program meant no questions were asked when someone gave up a gun, and identification was not asked for. Licensed gun dealers and active and retired law enforcement individuals were not allowed to participate.



In addition to the 494 firearms recovered, police and state officials gave out 82 gun locks to help secure existing arsenals. At least 500 gift cards were given out in exchange for the guns.

The guns dropped off Saturday included ghost guns, assault rifles, a gun with silencer, an UZI, a Mac-10, a pistol with threaded barrel and silencer, sawed-off shotguns, and all types of rifles and handguns.

It has been a felony in Hawaii since 2020 to make a gun without a government regulated serial number.

Police and law enforcement officials on site reserved the right not to accept a firearm or issue gift cards, according to a news release.

Originally scheduled to end at 3 p.m., a line of cars at buyback stations prompted a two-hour extension, according to state officials.

“It’s a community service. They (gun owners ) have an area they can go to and feel safe where they can turn in their weapons, ” William “Billy ” Oku, the DLE deputy director for law enforcement, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We are not forcing anybody. We are not targeting anyone. It’s another layer of trying to protect the community.”

Firearm owners may have aged out of gun use, or weapons may have been passed on to a generation that is not trained to handle and properly store them.

Whatever the reason someone may have for no longer needing a gun, law enforcement officials are happy to take them out of circulation, said Oku, a former state sheriff and Honolulu police officer.

“If you can take one gun off the street, that’s great for the community and for the people of Hawaii, ” said Oku, who spent time Saturday at the buyback location run out of the city’s Waianae Corporate Base Yard on Farrington Highway. “Now they have a place to turn in the guns.”

The one-day event featured two simultaneous gun buyback locations, the second situated at the Kinau Hale parking lot on Punchbowl Street.

People who turned in automatic firearms of any type, semi-automatic rifles or ghost guns received a $200 Foodland gift card. Relinquishing a handgun, rifle, shotgun, bump stock or Glock switch was good for a $100 Foodland gift card.

There was no limit on the number of firearms a person could turn in, but gift cards were limited to a maximum of three.

Both locations accepted working and inoperable firearms and also offered gun locks to anyone who didn’t want to turn in a gun but needed to secure their firearms.

“This initiative is part of a larger effort to combat gun violence and promote safe neighborhoods across Hawaii, ” said Green in a statement. “I am proud to be working with our law enforcement agencies to expand this program statewide.”

A total of 21, 881 personal and private firearm permit applications were processed statewide during 2022, marking a 6.1 % decrease from the 23, 299 applications processed in 2021, according to the Department of the Attorney General.

About 96 % of those applications were approved and resulted in issued permits.

“Firearm violence is a public health concern and is the leading cause of death for children nationally. While Hawaii has a low rate of firearm injuries and deaths, one out of 10 homes has a gun, and, last year, four children had non-fatal injuries and three children died from firearms, ” said state Director of Health, Kenneth Fink, in a statement. “Safe storage of firearms at home—such as by storing guns unloaded and separate from ammunition ; securing in a locked gun vault, safe or case ; and using locking devices such as cable-based and trigger locks—can reduce the risk of firearm-related assault, suicide, and unintentional harm to children. Not having guns in the house is even safer for children. The buyback program, which will have free gun safety kits available, is an opportunity to reduce the number of guns in homes and reinforce safe firearm storage to help keep our keiki safe.”

This Oahu Gun Buyback initiative was paid for in part by DLE and by a Federal Housing and Urban Development-Project Safe Neighborhoods grant. The DLE contributed $45, 000 and $45, 000 was obtained through the federal grant.

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