Hawaii protection order bill on hold until 2018

The Hawaii Legislature adjourned its 2017 session Thursday, leaving a controversial protection order bill in limbo until next year.

Senate Bill 898 allows law enforcement to seize firearms from owners considered “at-risk” of committing a violent crime. It passed the Senate unanimously in March.

The measure faces staunch opposition from the National Rifle Association, state-based gun groups and concerned citizens — all of whom cited the proposal’s infringement on due process.

Specifically, the legislation stipulates police can seize guns from an owner with a court order issued through an ex-parte warrant application. A hearing to determine the owner’s permanent prohibition would occur within 30 days.

The idea, bill supporters say, is to prevent tragedies involving guns — namely, mass shootings.

“This bill allows law enforcement to take preventative action in situations where information is obtained on possible attacks being planned that involve firearms,” said David Nilsen, Acting Major of the Hawaii Police Department’s Records and Identification Division, in submitted testimony last month. “In today’s environment of terrorism, particularly ‘lone wolf’ terrorists and other active shooter situations, this is a powerful tool that law enforcement can use to protect our community from these attacks.”

The proposal was favored to pass in the House, though no further action will be taken until session convenes next year.

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