What’s the Law: Shipping Handguns to the mainland (non-ffl to ffl)

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC (revisited): Shipping Handguns to the mainland (non-ffl to ffl)

Question: I am seriously downsizing my collection and selling my firearms on internet auctions. I know I can send a long gun without a Hawaii FFL to a Mainland FFL. But how about handguns? I heard it’s the same process.

Answer: Yes, you can send a handgun to a Mainland FFL without going through a Hawaii FFL. However, you have to ship via a common carrier such as UPS or FedEx. Be aware that these carriers will require you to ship via “next-day” or “priority-overnight” rate. Expensive, but doable. The cheapest way is USPS flat rate but, as a non-FFL, you can’t mail a handgun. A Hawaii FFL has to mail it. In order for your Hawaii FFL to do this, the
Shipping handguns to the Mainland, non-FFL to FFL handgun must be dealer-registered by your Hawaii FFL before it can be mailed. This will require two trips to HPD. So the simplest way is for you to ship via UPS or FedEx to a Mainland FFL. The Mainland FFL should send you a signed copy of the FFL. This can be done by fax or email attachment. Go to ATF’s online “FFL eZ Check” to verify the FFL’s address. (See: 18 U.S.C. Sec. 922 (a) (3), (5), (e), 27 CFR Sec. 478.31.

See also “ATF Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide 2005,” Question & Answer, B7 & B8.)

What’s the Law: Registered firearms can’t be unregistered

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Registered firearms can’t be unregistered

Question: If I sell a registered firearm via an Internet auction and send it to a Mainland buyer/FFL, does the firearm still remains registered to me at HPD?

Answer: Yes. Unless your registered firearm was transferred to someone else who re-registered it at HPD, your registration remains on the HPD records. HPD does not have a system to de-register firearms if you move to the Mainland or send firearms to the Mainland. Imagine the thousands of service personnel who registered their personal firearms at HPD while on their duty time in Hawaii. Once they complete their Hawaii assignments and move to other duty stations, the gun registration stays. There must be a multitude of firearms registered at HPD that are no longer in this State.

If you have sent a firearm to a Mainland FFL, you should send a letter to HPD informing them that you no longer have the firearm. Your letter should contain all the important information including your registration number and date of registration, type of firearm, make, model, caliber, barrel length and serial number. Also include the name, address, and FFL number of the dealer you sent it to and the date of the transfer. Keep a copy of the letter. HPD will do nothing with your letter but, at least, you’ll have a record of notification if you ever get a law enforcement inquiry in the future. In the event the firearm is later used in a crime, the ATF trace will end with you. Unless you have a record of where the firearm went, you will have a lot of explaining to do and nothing to back it up.

What’s the Law: Transporting firearms or ammunition without a vehicle

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Transporting firearms or ammunition without a vehicle

Question: How can a person transport unloaded firearms and ammunition without a vehicle? Is it legal to transport firearms while walking? Is a pistol in a backpack okay? What about ammo?

Answer: Excellent question. As we know, all unloaded firearms and ammunition have to be transported in a fully enclosed case and only between your home, the range, places of purchase, repair, training/instruction, exhibition/show or the police station. Can someone lawfully walk to a nearby gun shop to buy a firearm or ammunition? Walk over to HPD to register it and take it back home on foot? HRS Sections 134-24, 25 and 26 speaks to “lawful carry” between such places. The word “carry” is operative. No mention that it has to be in a vehicle. So the short answer is “yes.” An unloaded, fully encased handgun and ammunition in a backpack would be a good idea.

This would also seem to apply for those people taking the bus, taxi cab, as well as using a moped or bicycle. I don’t think your Second Amendment rights should be limited by not owning a motorized passenger vehicle.

But be well aware that most police officers do not understand the HRS Sections (above) and you will be subject to an arrest. As mentioned in the previous WTL column, discretion is important; it is best not to draw attention and keep a copy of your registration and a copy of the law with you if stopped. Additionally, carrying an unloaded, fully encased long gun without a passenger vehicle creates a host of public concerns. It may be lawful but not recommended.

What’s the Law: Ruger Charger pistol illegal?

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

Topic: Ruger Charger Pistol… assault pistol revisited

Question: A few years, ago Ruger brought out the Charger pistol, essentially the 10/22 in a handgun configuration. A Honolulu dealer was able to register them at HPD, and they were sold. I heard later that HPD got the BATF to rule the Ruger Charger as an illegal short barrel rifle. But the Charger pistols that the dealer brought in prior were all “grandfathered” as legal.

Answer: The Ruger Charger is an assault pistol banned only in Hawaii. (see Sec. 134-1 and 134-8 HRS). It’s State law, and possession is a Class C felony. The penalty is 5 years in jail. BATF has nothing to do with ruling it’s a short rifle.

When that Ruger Charger came out, a few were brought in by some FFL dealers who were unaware of what constitutes an illegal assault pistol. Neither did HPD, and registration was allowed. Later, the buyers and the dealers were told the Charger is illegal and that they had to be turned in. Assault pistols are not grandfathered in unless duly registered before July 1992. But that Ruger Charger didn’t exist then. Laws can be enacted to prohibit possession of things that were lawful prior. But grandfathering is rare in contraband laws. The State could have banned all assault pistols regardless in 1992, but they didn’t. However, any such guns like the Charger post 1992 are illegal.

Making it past HPD registration doesn’t count. You are not home free. No grandfathering if the cops missed it. All HPD needed to do was cancel all the Charger registrations and request they be turned in. Failure to do so could prompt a visit by the SWAT team and a felony arrest. I am not aware what HPD actually did with the Chargers that were sold to the public. But all future sales are unlawful.

For details as to what constitutes an assault pistol, check out the aforementioned Sections of Chapter 134 HRS and refer to “What’s the Law” (Topic: Assault Pistols) in the January 2011 issue.

What’s the Law: Transporting firearms without a passenger vehicle

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Transporting firearms without a passenger vehicle

Question: How can a person who doesn’t own a passenger vehicle transport firearms? Can I take my cased handgun or long gun to the range on my motorcycle?

Answer: Hawaii law allows the transport of firearms to and from your home and the range. But the law is silent as to the means of transportation, and there is nothing limiting transportation to passenger vehicles. It would seem a motorcycle is allowed. As required, all firearms must be unloaded and fully encased; the ammunition, as well. To prevent public concern, handguns and ammo should be in a saddle bag. Even a long gun case should not be obviously for a firearm. Some have wisely suggested a small golf bag.

Note the law doesn’t say “transport.” It says, “lawful to carry unloaded firearms in an enclosed container from….”

Keep in mind, many police officers may not be aware of the transport law. You would be well advised to have a copy of your HPD firearms registration and a copy of Sec.134-23 to 27 HRS with you. If you are stopped, you will have all the information and the law for the police officer. Also important is transporting firearms only on days the range is open and during approximate range hours. And no stops for a food or shopping. Go straight to the range and back home.

What’s the Law: Koko Head Shooting Complex deed requires it must be a shooting range?

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Koko Head Shooting Complex deed requires it must be a shooting range?

Question: I have always heard for the last 40+ years that the Koko Head Range was given to the City and County of Honolulu by the Bishop Estate for the dedicated and limited purposes of establishing a public shooting range. So isn’t the city legally prohibited from shutting the Range down and creating just a park, or even a zoo, as was once proposed?

Answer: On December 29, 1928, five parcels of land (some of which is now known as the Koko Head Shooting Complex) were given to the City and County of Honolulu by the Bishop Estate (NKA, Kamehameha Schools) for the sum of $1. The conveyance was subject to a number of lease rights, all of which have long expired. Other conditions that appear to be valid today are the maintenance of an existing water system and that the City “shall use the conveyed premises for purposes of public parks/rights of way and for no other purposes….”

The only reference to a rifle range is contained in a handwritten waiver on Page 7. The entry is dated November 22, 1940, and states:

“Nov 22/40 Covenant waived as to area on mauka side Kal Hwy about 1⁄2 ‘ northeast … Hanauma Bay to be used by C & C for a rifle range (remain effective until abandoned)”

Contrary to popular belief, and most unfortunately, nothing in the deed specifically restricts the use to a shooting range. In fact the shooting range isn’t mandated but is rather allowed only by waiver. The deed can be found at the Bureau of Conveyances Liber 455.

What’s the Law: Internet purchase of a stolen firearm claimed to be made before 1898

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Internet purchase of a stolen firearm claimed to be made before 1898

Question: I was on an Internet gun auction site and was interested in a firearm that a mainland FFL dealer said was an antique made before 1898. As such, it could be shipped directly to me without the need for a Hawaii FFL. I placed a successful bid, and the firearm was shipped directly to me. I soon discovered that the firearm was actually manufactured after 1898 and, when I tried to register it at HPD, it was confiscated since it appeared on a national stolen firearms list. Can I get my money back? Suggestions?

Answer: Even if it appears that a firearm was produced before 1898, this determination must be made by the serial number (see WTL, May 2012). A seller’s claim should be verified independently by the buyer. Don’t assume the mainland seller really knows.


If any firearm you buy turns out to be stolen, you can demand your money back. A seller is legally obligated to make a full refund even if he was unaware it was stolen. If the seller refuses, you could send a report to the auction company and the ATF since he illegally sold and shipped a firearm to a non-FFL in violation of federal law and that the firearm was also stolen.

The Department of Justice reported that 1.4 million firearms have been stolen during the period, 2005 to 2010. The likelihood a stolen firearm being offered for sale on an Internet gun auction, at a gun show, or even by individuals, is not remote. Buyer beware.

Post script: In the case above, a refund was issued in full.

What’s the Law: Transfer of estate firearms

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Transfer of estate firearms

Question: My friend’s father passed away recently and left a WW2 M-1 carbine and a Colt .45 auto . My friend wants to keep the M-1 but wants me to have the Colt. What do we need to do?

Answer: At death, a long gun can be transferred directly to a family member provided the member has the needed permit, a copy of the death certificate and notarized authorization by the estate personal representative. HPD may not get too sticky about the authorization since your friend is a family member. Possibly he could take the carbine, the death certificate, and his long gun permit to HPD.

If you are not a family member, it gets more complicated. All firearms have to be transferred to a FFL dealer first:

  1. Family provides a copy of the death certificate and a notarized letter authoring a transfer to the dealer.
  2. Dealer takes both to HPD and obtains a dealer registration for the long gun and obtains a permit for the handgun (no 14-day wait period).
  3. Dealer goes back to the family and has the family member sign the handgun permit.
  4. Dealer returns to HPD with the signed permit and the handgun and obtains a dealer registration for the handgun.
  5. All estate firearms must be dealer-registered at HPD and logged into the dealer’s ATF book. Once this is done, the dealer can start selling/transferring the guns to non-family members.

Alternatively, your friend could have the handgun registered to him and in turn have you register it in your name. But that will require both of you to have the needed handgun certifications and go through 14-day wait periods.

All of the above is the “normal” procedure followed by HPD under Sec. 134-2 (a) HRS. However, in the past, the procedure has changed without notice or new laws passed.

What’s the Law: Personal firearms inventory is imperative

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WHAT’S THE LAW?

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Personal firearms inventory is imperative

Question: I have a fairly large collection of firearms and am nearing retirement age. What should I have in place today in case something should happen to me?

Answer: Hawaii law requires all of your firearms to be registered to new owners upon your death [Sec.134-2 HRS]. To accomplish this, your family must first determine what is in your collection and locate each firearm.

Regardless of your age or health, the most fundamental thing every gun collector should have is an inventory of all firearms. The collector must record basic information such as make, model, type, action, caliber, barrel length, and serial number. This central list should designate whether or not the firearm was acquired before July 1, 1994, and thus duly registered with the police department. Handguns were required to be registered well before July 1, 1994. (You can use the sample form below or use Excel or any other format.) All police registration papers should be placed in one envelope and stored with the master record of firearms. Keep all of these with your will. Your family should be aware of it and where it is.

All of your firearms should preferably be stored in a single location; i.e., a safe or locked closet. Your family should have access via combination or key.

Unfortunately, for a majority of gun owners, all the needed information is lacking at the time of their death, thus creating an enormous burden on the family. The information is essential for the proper transfer and sale of firearms. The post death process is seriously hampered by poor recordkeeping, lack of a written inventory, lack of a set place to store firearms, and loosely kept registration papers. It is often common for a widow and surviving family members to simply have HPD confiscate and destroy the firearms owned by the deceased rather than deal with the complicated post-death process of legalities due to irresponsible ownership management.

Firearms ownership has responsibilities. An inventory record is just one… but an imperative one.

What’s the Law: Buying unregistered long guns

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WHAT’S THE LAW

BY DARRYL CHOY

TOPIC: Buying unregistered long guns

 

Question: I am aware that a lot of long guns are illegally bought and sold between individuals by bypassing police registration. What are the risk factors?

Answer: Buying or selling long guns without following the required HPD paperwork is a very touchy subject.

The law requires a buyer to have a permit and to register a long gun within five days. The seller must notify HPD of the sale within 48 hours. This applies even if the gun is not currently registered, and the prior owner had it before July 1, 1994 (the date long gun registration became law).

Pre-1994 long guns are not “grandfathered.” While allowed to be unregistered, they must, however, be registered upon any transfer after July 1, 1994.

The penalty is a petty misdemeanor [Sec. 134-3(b) and 134-17(c) HRS], 30 days jail, $1,000 fine, and firearm is confiscated as contraband and destroyed.

Some buyers try to justify the non-registration by falsely claiming they acquired the long gun before the July 1994 law. But that may not wash if the buyer didn’t have a long gun permit back then or wasn’t old enough to own a firearm.

Aside from violating the firearm laws you also run the risk of buying a stolen firearm. The seller may be just a fence. Buying or receiving stolen property is a completely different and additional crime [Sec. 708-830(7) HRS].

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