WHY DOES HAWAII document the lowest or one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the USA? They must be doing something right. An article written by Harry Cheadle titled “Why the US gun violence epidemic hasn’t reached Hawaii” analyzes why. Some findings:

The Institute for Health and Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, found that the gun death rate in the US was 10.6 per 100,000 people, much higher than other Western Developed Nations like Canada (2.1), France (2.7) and Australia (1.0).

Comparing state rates is also telling: Alaska (24.5), Alabama (22.9), Montana (22.5), Massachusetts (3.7) and Hawaii (2.5).

What is it about Hawaii that makes it an outlier? There are two million guns in a population of 1.4 million. There is a strong hunting culture. What does Hawaii do that lowers their gun violence?

1. Mandates all gun owners obtain licenses.
2. Restricts people under restraining orders from owning a gun.
3. Restricts those who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun.
4. Regulates ammunition sales.
5. Bans assault pistols.
6. Mandates background checks.
7. Permits are required which mandates fingerprinting and the local chief of police looking at your mental health records.
8. People who committed violent crimes are barred from owning guns.
9. There is a 10 day waiting period on permits.
10. Anyone admitted to a psychiatrist or is under treatment for “significant behavioral emotional mental disorders” is restricted before a permit is granted.

11. Universal background check is required.

Important considerations of Hawaii’s lower gun death rate is a study which indicates that laws blocking people with violent misdemeanor convictions lead to an 18% decline in homicides. Also, it is very difficult to traffic guns into Hawaii. One of the reasons Chicago’s gun death rate is high is because many illegal guns come from Indiana. One report from New York State indicates that between 2010-2015, 74% of guns used in crimes came from other  states with weaker gun laws.

What is clear is because Hawaii has strong, fair and focused gun laws, it has a lower rate of gun violence. Second Amendment rights are protected while responsible adults are allowed to purchase and use guns for hunting and sport.

The full article may be found on Facebook, ENGAGE-ELCA.


Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes