Honolulu agrees to 4-month window to grant or deny gun carrying licenses after lawsuit over delays


HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu has agreed to grant or deny applications to carry guns in public within four months of submission in response to a lawsuit by residents who complained of delays of up to a year, according to a stipulation signed by a federal judge Friday.

The March lawsuit alleged that the long delays were the city’s way of keeping the permitting process as restrictive as it was before a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, that upended gun laws nationwide. That included Hawaii, which has long had some of the nation’s strictest gun laws.

Before the Bruen decision, which held that people have a right to carry for self-defense, Hawaii’s county police chiefs rarely issued licenses for either open or concealed carry.

When chiefs “began to issue a trickle of concealed carry permits” after Bruen, the lawsuit said, Honolulu “merely switched gears from almost never issuing any concealed carry permits so that there was no one with a permit, to issuing permits so slowly that it has essentially kept the permitting system the same as it was prior to Bruen — completely discretionary.”

“The excessive delays that my clients experienced in obtaining their concealed carry licenses is indicative of a lack of commitment on the part of the government in allowing citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” said Alan Beck, one of the lawyers for the three residents and the Hawaii Firearms Coalition, which was also a plaintiff in the case.

Representatives for Honolulu and city police did not immediately comment on the agreement Friday.

In addition to granting or denying applications within 120 days of submission, the city agreed to make reasonable efforts to procure and implement an online application system by March 8, 2026.

“The United States Supreme Court ruled that the exercise of the Second Amendment and the right to carry for self-defense cannot be infringed by bureaucratic sloth,” said Kevin O’Grady, another lawyer representing the plaintiffs. “This is one small step toward ensuring that the people have their God-given rights to protect themselves.”

A similar lawsuit is underway in Los Angeles, over permitting delays of more than a year.

Beck said Honolulu isn’t facing the same volume of applications as Los Angeles.

In 2023, Honolulu processed and approved 1,577 carry licenses, according to firearms statistics from the state attorney general’s office.

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