What’s the Law: More than 10 rds magazine ban


by Darryl Choy


Section 134-8 HRS amended June 29, 1992, banned all magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and are capable of use in a semi-auto handgun. Due to the unusual language of the amendment:

1) AR-15/M-16 type; 20, 30 round and larger magazines are banned since they can be used in a “Bushmaster pistol”.

2) M-1 carbine; 15, 30 round magazines are banned since they can be used in an Iver Johnson “Enforcer pistol”.

3) Ruger 10/22 or 77/22 aftermarket “Ramline” type; 25, 30, 50 round magazines are banned since they can be used in an “Intratec-22T pistol”

4) Commercial (non-military) and all drums Auto Ordnance Thompson 1927­ A1 magazines are banned since they be used in the “Thompson 1927-A5 pistol”.

5) Heckler and Koch K-94 magazines are banned since they can be used in “HK SP89 pistol”.

The following is intended to assist the magazine owner in under­standing HRS 134-8 as amended. No intention is made to defend this law. Be cautioned that HRS 134-8 as amended is not a model of legislative clarity. In fact, repeated detailed readings of Chapter 134 HRS is required to begin understanding what the Legislature actually did.

Q: I don’t own any so-called assault pistols. All I have is a few military-type semi-auto rifles. Does the new law affect me?

A: Yes. If you own any AR-15, 20 rds or more, M-1 carbine, 15 rds or more, any 10/22 aftermarket Ramline-Type 25, 30 or 50 rd magazines, HK-94 or Thompson magazines. One misdemeanor count per magazine.

Q: Can I just modify my more than 10 rd, AR-15, H-1 carbine, HK-94, Thompson or 10/22 aftermarket magazines so that no more than 10 rds will fit?

A: Yes, but under the law, you should have done the modification before 7/1/92. Better late than never. However, the law does not tell you what is a satisfactory modification – only that the modified magazine not be capable of being readily restored to a more than 10 rd capacity. The more permanent the better. The Colt 5 shot block probably wouldn’t cut it since it can be removed in less than a minute or two. The 5 shot block with set screws and filed out screwdriver slots might satisfy the law. Epoxy might be enough. Noteworthy is that the original legislation called for “permanence”. The Conference Committee changed it to “not readily restorable”. (A judge or jury will determine what “not readily restorable” means – do we still want to get off jury duty)

Q. I heard that if my 30 round AR-15 magazine is inserted in my AR, I can be busted for a felony?

A. No. A more than 10 round magazine inserted in a pistol. is a felony. A 30 round mag, in or out of your AR-15, is a misdemeanor (lucky you live in Hawaii).

Q. I own a Mini-14, MIA, AK-47, FN-Fal, FN-FNC, HK 91 and 93 rifles all with 20 and 30 round magazines. Does the law apply to me?

A. No, unless there is an Assault pistol that can accept those magazines, the law does not affect you. Your magazines regardless of high capacity are not illegal, banned nor do they need to be modified. The present legal status of your magazines can change to illegal at any time in the future without changes to the law 1f and when a semi-auto pistol is manufactured that can take any magazines, they’ll become illegal (Isn’t it fun knowing your law­ abiding days are controlled solely by the activities of some gun manufacturer somewhere in the world). However, take note that all more than 10 round magazines for rifles and handguns manufactured after Sept. 1994 are illegal under Federal law.

Q. If I take my AR type rifle, M-l carbine, HK-94, Thompson, or Ruger 10/22 to the Kokohead Range, Can I be Arrested?

A: If you take any of these rifles to the range and have a magazine with a capacity of more 10 rounds, you may be subjected to an on-site investigation and possibly arrested. A police officer has probable cause to stop you, look at your rifle and inspect your magazine if they are in open view. Firearms in closed containers are not subject to inspection.

Q: If I want to take an AR-15 type, HK-94, Thompson, M-1 carbine type or Ruger 10/22 rifle to the range, what do I need to do to stay legal?

A: Do not take any magazines with you that accepts more than 10 rds. Therefore, your AR-15 types should only have properly modified 20 and 30 rd magazines that will not accept more than 10 rds. Your M-1 carbine magazines should be similarly modified to take no more than 10 rds. Your Ruger 10/22 should only have the standard 10 rd magazine and not the aftermarket Ramline 25 or 30 rd magazines. Please remember that this law is a magazine ban so if you are at the range with a Ruger 77/22 bolt-action rifle with a Ramline 50 rd magazine, you can be arrested.

Q: I hate guns, but I love dirty magazines. I collect M-16 military 20 and 30 rd magazines mfg by government contractors i.e., OK, Adventureline, Colt, etc., along with M-1 carbine 15 and 30 rdmags. I don’t own any guns that my magazine collection can fit. Am I legal?

A: No, HRS S134-8 is a high capacity pistol magazine ban. Your magazines are “pistol magazines” since they can fit in a Bushmaster, pistol or Enforcer Pistol. Unless your collection was modified so no magazine could accept” more than 10 rds by 7/1/92, you are now illegal (Ask for a jury trial).

Q: If I get stopped for investigation or arrested for violating the high capacity pistol magazine law, what should I do?

A: Don’t give the police officer a hard time, don’t mouth off, swear, threaten or resist arrest. Be respectful even if the officer is acting like a total fascist jerk. Do not admit to any­ thing but give your “name, rank and serial number”. If you have with you closed bags or gun cases DO KOT open or consent to open them. DO NOT lie to the officer by saying the closed bags or cases do not belong to you. The officer is limited to look at what is in plain view – including, magazines and rifles that are not totally zipped up. If the officer opens your stuff without your consent, the evidence is suppressible and can’t be used in court. If you say it isn’t yours, the officer can open it since it’s lost or abandoned property. (Gee, you thought suppression of evidence and the 5th amendment rights only help guilty criminals)

Q: I’ll be damned if I’ll destroy or butcher my magazines to take no more than 10 rounds. I won’t take these magazines to the range, but they’ll have to come to me and pry them from my fingers or turn my house upside down and find ’em!!

A: Is this a question or a challenge to HPD? We may be living in the Peoples’ Republic of Hawaii, but the police still need a warrant to enter and search your home for contraband magazines. But, a search warrant can be obtained if there is probable cause to believe you have contraband magazines in your home. So keep your trap shut! Telling people you “got a shit load of 30 round AR-15 magazines and they will have to pry them from your cold dead fingers” can be used against you in court and could be used to obtain a search warrant for your home. Additionally, if the police are in your home for a legitimate reason, i.e., investigating spouse abuse or burglary, and -they can see in open view a M-16/AR-15 30-rounder, you’ll get busted.

Q: I own a whole bunch of now illegal AR-15 20 and 30 round mags. I don’t want to spend time, effort or money to modify these magazines to the law. How do I dispose of them?

A: The law does not provide for a disposal process. Under the law, you are a potential multiple misdemeanant. If you take the  magazines to HPD and turn them in, you could get busted, since you are in possession of contraband as you enter the premises. While you may be tempted to do so, DON’T MAIL the magazines to your favorite anti-gun legislator or government official. Such an act may be illegal, since you are aiding and abetting your favorite legislature’s unlawful possession of evil high capacity assault pistol magazines.

Q: I own a number or rifle/carbine versions of “asault pistols”, an UZI with a 16 1/2 inch barrel and folding stock and a HK-94. What is the status of my rifle/carbine and their magazines?

A. Your firearms are rifle/carbine provided they have a permanent 16 1/2 inch barrels and stocks. Your more than 10 rd magazines are all contraband and, therefore, are illegal.

Q. I am a licensed “FFL” dealer. The law allows me to take into my inventory banned “assault pistols” even after 7/1/92, but I can’t sell or transfer them to anyone in Hawaii. 1 believe though, I can sell and send the “assault pistol” to a Mainland dealer. Does this apply to the banned magazines also?

A: Long question, Short answer – RO. The licensed dealer exception does not apply to banned magazines. You can’t possess banned magazines. Possession, of a FFL license does not make any difference (Hey, don’t yell at me! I didn’t want this law either).

Q: My 75 year old mother has a very old Inland M-1 carbine with one 15 rd magazine that my 442nd veteran father owned for decades as a WWll momento. My father died a few years ago and my mom has the carbine locked in a closet. What’s the status of my mom’s carbine?

A: You mother is an unlawful possessor of an illegal high capacity “assault pistol” magazine (Sorry, the legislature feels she’s a potential serial killer).

Q: Seeing a need, I want to sell “properly modified” to no more than 10 rd pistol magazines. Can I do so legally?

A: Yes, assuming the “proper modification” was done prior to 7/1/92 but not sure how anyone could tell when the modification was actually done but nobody said the law makes sense. If you bring in properly modified magazines into the State, you will be legal

Q: Can I lawfully perform the proper modifications of banned magazines for other people for a fee or gratis?

A: Yes. The law seems to encourage registered owners of firearms that own 11 – 20 round capacity magazines to seek out people like yourself and have their magazines properly modified during the pre 7/1/94 grace period. However, since unregistered owners of firearms that accept banned pistol magazines are now in unlawful possession of such magazines, a big legal question looms over helping outlaw owners of banned magazines.

Q: I’m a HPD officer. Does all this magazine ban apply to me?

A: No. Section 134-11, HRS exempts police officers from Sections 134-6 thru 134-9. So you can own and possess “assault pistols” and banned hi-capacity mags.

In a developing totalitarian society, the government agents are not disarmed, only the people are. However, upon termination of employment by either retiring, quitting or firing/ the officer’s exempt status is forfeited immediately and he/she must comply to the law like everybody else; part of the great unwashed and unarmed masses.

Q: I’m a full-time U.S. military service member. Do I have an exempt status also?

A: No. You do have an exemption but only when actually on duty. Your service rifle (M-16) and its standard 30 rd mags are okay, but only on duty. Personally owned firearms and accessories, i.e., magazines are subject to the State ban.

Q: I have a modified AR-15 that is chambered for 7.62 x 39 Russian. Are my magazines illegal?

A. If your magazines are unaltered and will accept more than 10 rounds and will fit any “assault pistol”, i.e., a Bushmaster, they are illegal. It doesn’t matter that the caliber is 7.62 x 39 Russian.

Q.  How does the 1994 Federal Law fit into all this (the State Law)?

A. Federal law bans ALL ammunition feed devices (rifle, pistol, shotguns) that hold more than “10” rounds if manufactured after Sept. 14, 1994. Pre-Sept. 14, 1994 mags are “grandfathered”.

Hawaii Law bans outright all pistol mags that can hold more than “10” rounds. There are no “grandfather” provision.

For Hawaii, pre-Sept. 14, 1994 more than “10” round mags for rifles and shotguns are “grandfathered” by Federal Law since Hawaii Law is silent. GOT THAT?

Editors Note: The 1994 Federal Magazine limits have expired and this final section is left in for completeness.

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