Hawaii Supreme Court cites HBO movie as it upholds conviction for unregistered firearm

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The Hawaii Supreme Court says that “spirit of Aloha” overrides the U.S. Constitution. The court upheld a lower court conviction of a man who had carried a gun in public without having a permit.

In its ruling, the court cited the “spirit of Aloha” and referred to an HBO crime series, “The Wire.”

The ruling is seen by many as a defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2022 that upheld the Second Amendment.

“The thing about the old days, they the old days,” the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled.

For those who didn’t have HBO, that is a quote from season four, episode three of “The Wire,” and it was intended to convey that the founding of the country and the culture of the past doesn’t direct current times or current interpretation of constitutional law.

Justice Todd Eddins wrote that the “spirit of Aloha clashes with a federally-mandated lifestyle that lets citizens walk around with deadly weapons during day-to-day activities.”

The ruling says “there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public.”

The case involves Christopher Wilson, who was charged in 2017 on various counts for carrying an unregistered gun, which he said was for self defense after he saw a group of men on his Maui property at night. He was arrested for trespass while he was hiking “and gazing at the moon,”  police arrested Christopher L. Wilson, who was “hiking and gazing at the moon,” near Maalaea, while he carried a load .22 pistol in his waistband.

Wilson’s attorneys argued that a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, reaffirmed that carrying a firearm in public is a constitutionally protected right.

The ruling ruling says Hawai’i’s history “does not include a society where armed people move about the community to possibly combat the deadly aims of others.” It makes Hawaii into a separate sovereign state, not subject to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We reject Wilson’s constitutional challenges. Conventional interpretive modalities and Hawaiʻi’s historical tradition of firearm regulation rule out an individual right to keep and bear arms under the Hawaiʻi Constitution. In Hawaiʻi, there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public,” the ruling said.

“The court found that the text, purpose, and historical tradition of the Hawaii Constitution do not support an individual right to carry firearms in public. The court reasoned that the language of article I, section 17, which mirrors the Second Amendment, ties the right to bear arms to the context of a well-regulated militia. It does not extend this right to non-militia purposes. The court also considered Hawaii’s history of strict weapons regulation and the intent of Hawaii’s framers,” explains law.justia.com.

The full ruling can be read at this link.

55 COMMENTS

  1. Say “Aloha” (meaning, here, “Goodbye”) to freedom in the police state of Hawaii.

    Hawaiians are as far gone down the road of authoritarian and intolerant statism as are Californians. A giant tsunami out of the Pacific, washing away both states, would be a national blessing at this point.

  2. Correct spelling (LOL)

    I’d suggest Hawaii seek nullification from the union. The current state asked to be a part of the United States, under the theory of states having nullification rights (‘https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullification_(U.S._Constitution) ), The State should immediately take action to rectify their apparent disagreement with the United States judicial system and the Rights contained in the Constitution.
    Good By- ‘Fair winds and calm seas’ to the Islands.

    • It’s hard to beat the Kona Coffee but, I guess one can always buy that online.
      SC, GA, FL … All have fantastic beaches, excellent cost of living, College Football – Baseball, pretty vibrant economies, Conservative Foundations, Christian Values, and much more affordable (and plentiful) golfing venues.

  3. Send federal troops to protect and enforce the constitutional rights of citizens. Arrest and prosecute those, including judges, who knowingly violate our constitutional rights. State judges aren’t above the law and this is a good opportunity to teach liberals that lesson.

  4. Sorry but federal trumps state when it comes to Constitutional rights and the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that the 2nd Amendment DOES protect the right to carry. In fairness, however, the Court did not rule that a license cannot be required – only that licenses (if required) cannot be arbitrarily denied. I’ve seen this story on multiple outlets and am unclear on what Mr. Wilson was formally charged with (carrying without a license, possession of an unregistered handgun, and/or something else). Also, I can’t help but point out that a .22 is not a good choice for a defensive cartridge.

    • Pilot, The word “license” is synonymous with “permit.” Applying for a license is asking for permission. Needing permission for an activity means you have no right to said activity. Words have meaning; chose them carefully.

    • AK Pilot–here is the link to the decision. Mr. Wilson was trespassing on private property when arrested. ‘https://www.courts.state.hi.us/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/SCAP-22-0000561.pdf

      • So, this Duane Ting, guy that accosted Wilson and the other three guys Wilson was with for being on his property, is exempt but Wilson is guilty? Ting pointed a loaded AR-15 rifle at the 4 men, after calling police. Ting was not in fear for his life and was in no danger from the 4 men when he called the police. And , the felony trespass has not been enteratined in court yet, so Ting may be guilty of false imprisonment. The court is providing for unequal application of the law.

    • Aren’t busses, commercial trucks and tonnage required to be licensed but private drivers are not required per the US Constitution? The police ARE required to show id though. I believe there are cases on the books. The process due in the still standing confederate (friendly) capitalistic, constitutional guaranteed republic form/shape of our republic to change the US Constitution a continental convention must assemble for that purpose. The process to tamper with US Constitution is NOT judicial mind changing or well mannered woman locally changing it with the”help” of limp-wristed and equally well-mannered “ombudsman” with aid of soft-spoken lawyers. That power rests exclusively with we the people because we said so in the written down US Constitution our supreme law of our land. The military helps the people during assembling time. Not legislators.

  5. Per a family member who has lived on the big island for many years. Hawaii is the most corrupt place they have been. Cops look the other way for “da kind”. Other words if you’re pale you pay, if you’re brown you own the town.

    • Corrupt you say ? I agree there are still over a thousand missing children people are still paying mortgages on home that have burnt to the ground that they have still not let insurance adjusters in to get claims started seriously ? Citizens are still not allowed to access there own property do they own it or not ? I bet Mark Zuckerberg and oprah aren’t having any problems on the island in any way if I lived there I am honestly not sure what I would do if my house burned to the ground and my child was missing WTF!! WHERE ARE THE MISSING CHILDREN DOES NO ONE CARE ???

  6. Let’s do this reasonably. We keep one island, kick the rest to China.

    See how much the Chinese care about the “spirit of Aloha”.

  7. Hawaii is run like a Third World Country. Plenty da kine gun murders in Honolulu. But self protection is off the tables. And if you need bla-bla cops on your side, you better be willing to pay them out of pocket. Democrats have a locked tight grip on Hawaii. It’s been that way for 50 years. Haoles and the US Constitution are not welcome in the Aloha State.

  8. You won’t see any red MAGA hats anywhere on the islands. It’s a rainbow coalition nightmare for conservatives. You need to get down to the “villages” in Florida if you want to feel at ease. Leave Hawaii to those libtards. Please.

    • Sebastian, having friends on the Big Island, and having visited there are several occasions, I know that you wrong in your specious assumption here, just as you are wrong about pretty much every single radical leftist extremist bit of nonsense you spout. But those who might support Trump, or who simply do not support the radical leftist, pro-globalist political agenda in Hawaii, do undoubtedly keep a low profile for the most part, so as to not be bullied, harassed and attacked by their oh-so-intolerant radical leftist neighbors — particularly as the right to self-defense does not exist in the statist hellhole of Hawaii.

      • Last time I was over there the locals mentioned anyone thought to be planning to vote for the serial rapist was sent to the “colony” on Molokai. Jeff, just avoid any trouble and vacation in Florida. Heck, the Appalachians have very reasonable hotel rates for kinfolk.

        • What “serial rapist” are you babbling about here, Sebastian?
          Are you by chance referring to the dementia-addled pedophile-in-chief who currently usurps the position of US president?

          I swear, there is not a half-ounce of logic, rationality or common sense in any of you radical leftist extremists. You are all complete citiots at total remove from reality.

          • Jeff we realize English is a second language for you but the urban dictionary is not a great primary source for writing. Perhaps go back to your primary language – gibberish!

          • Part of the whole mess of being liberal is an absolute disassociation from reality.
            Feelings over facts, emotions over logic.

            Otherwise their worldview can’t make sense. Even to them.

  9. Plenty of mortal combat in Hawaii before King Komehemaha United the kingdom by, ready for it? BRUTE FORCE ( defeating his rivals through bloodshed!!

    • Somewhat right and somewhat wrong! King Kam did not need force to legimiate himself as kahuna in the big island. He started his journey toward chiefhood with a series of “miracles” that proved to many around him that his “mana” was bigger than his own chief’s. He then conquered competing chiefs on the big island. Meanwhile, Kahekili was in the process of uniting the middle of the chain (Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kaho’olawe). He did use terrible brute force and fear tactics to control and subdue his new subjects. Kahekili placed his nephews in charge of the various islands. Kam attacked the nephews one by one and picked them off. Finally his army came for Kahekili. Kam tried to sail his army to Kaua’i 3 times. All three times, he failed. It wasn’t until a diplomatic marriage was made between the chieftainess of Kaua’i and Kam III, that Kaua’i came into the kingdom. In 1917, Liliuokalani was placed in prison in her own palace by a unit of US Army. From the years of Kam I’s initial conquest, to the fall of the kingdom, uprisings were aimed mostly at plantation owners who treated the maka aina as slaves

  10. And then if the “ judicial branch “ decides that he doesn’t agree with eating beef?
    Few airliners sent there way, packed with illegal invaders with change a few minds as to the purpose of the constitution maybe.

  11. Abject morons on the Hawaii Supreme Court. The Heller decision of SCOTUS in 2008 made it clear the preamble of the 2nd amendment does not interfere or restrain the individual right to keep and bear arms.

  12. I have seen folks in Hawaii try to pull this crap before. I was told when renting a car in Hawaii that my auto insurance may not be valid in Hawaii. Hawaiian police prey on tourists in the highways. Hawaii may steal even more federal appropriations than Alaska. Absent tourism, the place would collapse. “Spirit of Aloha”. What does that mean in English? The Hawaiian court has embarrassed itself. Businesses will take steps to lower their liability profile.

  13. I lived in Hawaii for several years and I also attended college there. I can tell you that much of the above is true: cops were severely corrupt. I personally witnessed a navy guy pay a cop off with a couple $100 bills. Regarding the attitude toward statehood: many (most?) locals totally reject statehood. I am even convinced myself that Hawaii’s occupation, Liliuokalani’s imprisonment, and the vote to join the union were all illegal and corrupt. Public opinion about Federal lands… check how Alaskans feel about that, then multiply that sentiment by 10,000. Yes, there is a ridiculous liberal streak, but the “old hawaii” types, especially in Maui (based on my experience) simply want all the haoles (foreigners) to go away. Some want the kingdom back. And all of them are “royalty” so that wish can only end in disaster.

    Basically, it’s weird there. I am not the least bit surprised that these judges came up with this bizarre ruling. Chances are, they don’t think Hawaii is legitimately a part of the US anyway.

    • NO. The Bill of Rights simply states what inherent rights the government cannot take away, not by vote, not be decree, not by amending the constitution.

      Separately, everything not specifically given to the federal government in the constitution is reserved for the states. This is all very easy to understand.

      For the first time in my lifetime we have a US Supreme Court that is bound by the plain wording of the constitution. And this court reads the constitution exactly as it was taught to me in school. It’s not poetry, only clear and concise direction agreed and ratified by the 13 colonies.

  14. Take away the federal government economic support of Hawaii, and the economy there would collapse. The courts are on a fools errand and it will end with Wilson being broke but free to leave the islands, with the clothes on his back. Those that state is sending to Washington is indicative of the disaster that society has become, an Alaska isn’t far behind.

  15. Here is a personal account that sheds light on the right to keep and bear arms in Hawaii. In November of 2011, a group of Alaska foresters, including myself, formed a panel to present at the annual convention of the Society of American Foresters, and its Canadian counterpart, in Honolulu. It’s not germane to this story but our topic was the legal, scientific and economic impossibilities in the USFS plans to create a Tongass NF industry from second growth, and those plans have long since been shelved. Surprising to us at the time, even though it was a Saturday morning in Honolulu our presentation drew a standing-room only crowd.

    The convention was held at the big hotel at Waikiki. Scheduled to begin immediately after our conference was the annual meeting of the Pacific Rim Conference. For the first few days of the foresters’ event the hotel was having wifi trouble so each morning my wife and I went to the McDonald’s, only 200 yards down the street, to see emails.

    One of those days, very late at night when we weren’t at the McDonald’s, a CIA body-guard, part of the advance team for then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s impending arrival, and a young Hawaiian fellow had words while waiting in line. According to the first press reports the CIA fellow had been drinking, and he had his service Beretta handgun. The Hawaiian was unarmed but had a small pocket knife in his pocket, and the federal government later made much of that. The Hawaiian was the smaller fellow but he looked like someone who could handle himself. There was a brief scuffle, and the federal agent was easily bested. The CIA agent then shot and killed the young Hawaiian. The headline the next morning – only a few hours later – said the shooter had been charged with homicide but the press quickly forgot that and said he would not be charged. Local police were quickly gagged.

    The CIA agent immediately left the state on a government jet, and the incident was forgotten by the time Hillary Clinton arrived a few days later. She arrived at about 9 PM, and all traffic in the downtown area was stopped for about an hour. The affair was very much like one might expect to see in Russia or China. That is how the rights of Americans are treated in Hawaii, and I have not been back.

  16. WARNING: I know many of us Alaskans are accustomed to carry pocket knives as a most common sensical ‘tool’ but, if for any reason you do come here to Hawaii, you might want to freshen-up on Knife Laws in Hawaii. Here’s a good website for your reference, hopefully keeping you out of hot water … ‘https://www.akti.org/state-knife-laws/

    • Thanks for that. I’ll learn how to butter my toast with a spoon before visiting the Aloha State again. I’d hate to scare somebody to death if I had to use my Gerber Mini to cut off a luggage tag.

  17. I believe the judicial servants take a written oath to defend the US Constitution which includes securing and defending the rights of we the people of the nation with equal footing. Fairly brazen to elevate a dramatic series over the US Constitution during wartime.

  18. We the people have the power not the servants who were not granted such undelegatable authority. The supreme written law is not alterable. A repugnant act cannot be made effective.

  19. Ad recte docucendum oportet, primum…is a classical legal postulate applying contract principles. In Hawaii where there is a law school very difficult to get into isn’t this court anticipating solicitating argumentation? Can someone practice law from the bench?

  20. Sorry, but I can’t seem to find any legislation at the federal or state level titled the “Spirit of Aloha”. What legal precedent is this judge citing exactly? Maybe if the judge could share the decision or legislation with the rest of us it would clear the issue up.

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