REPORT TITLE:
Firearms


DESCRIPTION:
Provides qualified immunity for law enforcement officers dealing
with the denial or approval of firearm permits and when serving
or enforcing court protective orders.  Imposes assessment to
owner for storage and handling cost of recovered firearms.

 
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THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           1381
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
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                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO FIREARMS.



BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the chief of police
 
 2 of the respective counties and those acting under the chief's
 
 3 authority lack immunity from civil or criminal liability when
 
 4 issuing, denying, suspending, or revoking firearm permits and
 
 5 licenses.  The legislature notes that on February 28, 1994,
 
 6 Public Law 103-159, 107 Stat. 1536, Title I, Brady Handgun
 
 7 Violence Protection Act, also known as the "Brady Bill", became
 
 8 law.  This federal law states that state and local officials
 
 9 "...shall not be liable in an action at law for damages (A) for
 
10 failure to prevent the sale or transfer of a handgun to a person
 
11 whose receipt or possession of the handgun is unlawful under this
 
12 section; or (B) for preventing such a sale or transfer to a
 
13 person who may lawfully receive or possess a handgun."  The
 
14 legislature finds it necessary to put Hawaii laws in line with
 
15 the federal law to ensure that all county police departments are
 
16 able to make informed decisions when denying or approving firearm
 
17 permits and licenses without the impending threat of civil or
 
18 criminal liability.
 
19      In addition, the legislature finds that the chief of police
 

 
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 1 of the respective counties and those acting under the chief's
 
 2 authority also lack immunity from civil or criminal liability
 
 3 when serving or enforcing protective orders.  The legislature
 
 4 realizes that police officers who serve and enforce protective
 
 5 orders are concerned for the petitioners' safety.  During
 
 6 domestic argument situations, the potential of violence is
 
 7 elevated as emotions are heightened.  Removing the civil burden
 
 8 faced by police officers in these volatile situations so that
 
 9 they can take immediate action in good faith to protect the
 
10 petitioners is essential.  Law enforcement officers should be
 
11 allowed to make decisions without the imminent threat of civil or
 
12 criminal liability.
 
13      The legislature further finds that, according to current
 
14 law, enforcement agencies are required to seize and store
 
15 firearms for safe keeping as a result of domestic abuse
 
16 situations.  However, due to budgetary constraints and the
 
17 increase of the number of firearms being recovered over the last
 
18 several years, law enforcement agencies have incurred a lot of
 
19 storage and handling costs.  The legislature finds that a cost-
 
20 effective compensation plan for the storage of these firearms is
 
21 necessary.  Such an assessment is only a small price from
 
22 individuals whose firearms are being stored in an effort to
 
23 prevent a tragic event from occurring.
 

 
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 1      The purpose of this Act is to address certain administrative
 
 2 issues created by current firearms laws in Hawaii that seriously
 
 3 impact the operations of county police departments in the State
 
 4 by providing qualified immunity for the chief of police of the
 
 5 respective counties and those acting under the chief's authority
 
 6 from any claim that arises as a result of the issuance or denial
 
 7 of firearms permits or of the service or enforcement of
 
 8 protective orders, and additionally, proposing the assessment of
 
 9 fees for storing firearms that are recovered for safekeeping in
 
10 accordance with a recent law that addresses domestic abuse cases
 
11 by requiring police departments to seize all firearms owned by
 
12 the respondents involved in these cases.
 
13      SECTION 2.  Chapter 134, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
 
14 by adding two new sections to part I to be appropriately
 
15 designated and to read as follows:
 
16      "134-    Qualified immunity for the chief of police and
 
17 persons acting under authority of the chief of police.  The chief
 
18 of police of the respective counties and persons acting under the
 
19 authority of the chief of police within the course and scope of
 
20 their employment and acting without malice, criminal intent, or
 
21 reckless conduct shall not be liable for any claim that arises
 
22 out of:
 
23      (1)  The issuance, denial, suspension, or revocation of a
 

 
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 1           firearms permit; or
 
 2      (2)  The failure or refusal to issue, deny, suspend, or
 
 3           revoke a firearms permit;
 
 4 under this chapter.
 
 5      134-    Storage fees; exceptions.  (a)  A storage fee of
 
 6 twenty-five cents a day may be assessed upon a firearm owner
 
 7 whose firearm is stored for safekeeping by a law enforcement
 
 8 agency.  This includes instances where a firearm is voluntarily
 
 9 turned in for storage, recovered due to a protective order, or
 
10 seized in a domestic abuse situation.
 
11      (b)  The fees shall be assessed from the day of recovery or
 
12 seizure until the firearm is picked up by the owner.
 
13      (c)  No firearm shall be returned without proper payment of
 
14 the fees.  After being notified to pick up the firearm, the owner
 
15 has thirty days to contact the agency holding the firearm and
 
16 make payment.  The firearm shall be returned as provided in
 
17 section 134-7.5(d).  If payment is not made within thirty days,
 
18 the firearm may be disposed of by the law enforcement agency.
 
19      (d)  No fees shall be assessed for a firearm that is being
 
20 held for evidence."
 
21      SECTION 3.  Chapter 586, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
 
22 by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to
 
23 read as follows:
 

 
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 1      "586-    Qualified immunity for the chief of police and
 
 2 persons acting under authority of the chief of police.  The chief
 
 3 of police of the respective counties and persons acting under the
 
 4 authority of the chief of police within the course and scope of
 
 5 their employment and acting without malice, criminal intent, or
 
 6 reckless conduct shall not be liable for any claim that arises
 
 7 out of the service or enforcement of any protective order,
 
 8 whether it be temporary or permanent or whether issued within or
 
 9 outside of this State."
 
10      SECTION 4.  This Act does not affect rights and duties that
 
11 matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were
 
12 begun, before its effective date.
 
13      SECTION 5.  New statutory material is underscored.
 
14      SECTION 6.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
 
15 
 
16                           INTRODUCED BY:  _______________________
 

 
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