Hawaii becomes first state to put gun owners in FBI database

© Jim Young
The governor of Hawaii, David Ige, signed a bill that makes his state the first in the nation to register gun owners in a federal database. The system will automatically notify police if a resident of the island is arrested.

Ige signed the first-of-its-kind bill on Thursday, which he said was aimed at increasing safety in communities by requiring Hawaii gun owners to register with the FBI’s “Rap Back” system, which provides criminal record-monitoring services for law enforcement.

"This is about our community's safety and responsible gun ownership," Ige said in a statement. "This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawaii residents and visitors to our islands. This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General's office and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families."

When a firearm owner from Hawaii is arrested anywhere in the country, the system will alert local police departments in Hawaii. Authorities would then be able to determine if that person can still legally own firearms.

Gun rights groups opposed the measure, saying that it would subject law-abiding citizens to unnecessary monitoring.

“The exercise of an individual’s Second Amendment rights is not inherently suspicious and should not require a person to surrender other civil liberties, including unwarranted invasions of privacy or unequal treatment under the law,” the Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, wrote on its website. “The lawful acquisition, possession, carrying, or use of a firearm does not justify subjecting citizens to ongoing monitoring.”

Ige also signed two other bills related to firearms alongside the database legislation. One disqualifies perpetrators of stalking and sexual assault from owning guns and ammunition, and the other requires those with mental illnesses to give their weapons up if they have been diagnosed with a significant mental disorder.

The state legislation comes during a contentious time in US Congress, where lawmakers are deadlocked over the issue of gun control. Democratic representatives recently staged an unprecedented 24-hour sit-in on the House floor, demanding that Republicans put the issue of gun rights to a vote.