Report From the States

For Those Who Don't Believe in the Slippery Slope ---
A Clarion Call From Hawaii

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

In Hawaii, gun control bill SB 2151, which passed the Senate and now awaits House consideration, will create among other things a gun owners ID card system, require the re-registration of all firearms, and mandate the release of confidential medical records to law enforcement. HB 1880 that passed the House and awaits Senate approval, on the other hand, will require all registered firearm owners to provide their local chief of police with a list of all firearms currently in their possession. And yet, Hawaii already has one of the strictest gun control laws in the nation.The state already has laws in place requiring firearms to be both licensed and registered and is one of seven states that has banned handguns classified as "Saturday Night Specials." Hawaii not only has a 14-day purchase waiting period, but also regulates the sale to second parties (used and new guns). And yet, despite Hawaii's draconian gun control laws, a workplace massacre occurred on November 2, 1999, underscoring the fact that a determined madman or psychopath can get hold of illegal firearms, and if his intent is to kill innocent people, he will be able to do so, particularly if citizens are unarmed.

Law-abiding citizen disarmament guarantees intended victims cannot defend themselves because the police cannot be everywhere at all times to prevent (and stop) these shootings. Moreover, Hawaii is a "may issue" state which means that a concealed carry permit is difficult to obtain and issued only at the discretion of the police department (as a privilege rather than a right).

And yet, in the U.S., ordinary citizens shot three times as many criminals in self-defense as do the police, and recent work by Prof. John R. Lott, Jr. at Yale University has shown that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crime and cuts death rates from multiple shootings such as the one that took place in Hawaii --- without any apparent increase in accidental deaths or suicides.

That same month (November 1999) was an unpropitious month for draconian gun control proponents. Shootings took place not only in Hawaii but also in other countries with strict gun control laws. In Germany, four people were killed on November 1 by a teen who went on a shooting rampage. The victims were all visitors or patients at the local hospital. On December 7, 1999, a high school student at De Leijgraaf School in Veghel, Netherlands opened fire with a pistol in a school hallway and a teacher and four students were seriously wounded. These shootings were not given the media attention as those at Edinboro, Pennsylvania, Littleton, Colorado, and for that matter, Tasmania, Australia --- you can guess why.

Dr. Faria is Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel.

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(4);143-144. Copyright©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)