Hawaii’s top court unanimously ruled on Wednesday that “the spirit of Aloha” supersedes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
In the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Wilson, Justice Todd Eddins wrote that states “retain the authority to require” people to attain permits before they carry a firearm in public. The decision penned by Justice Eddins added that while the Hawaii Constitution “mirrors” the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “We read those words differently than the current United States Supreme Court,” adding, “We hold that in Hawaii there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public.”
“The spirit of Aloha clashes with a federally-mandated lifestyle that lets citizens walk around with deadly weapons during day-to-day activities,” the opinion continues. “The history of the Hawaiian Islands does not include a society where armed people move about the community to possibly combat the deadly aims of others.”
State v. Wilson stems from December 2017 when Hawaiian Christopher Wilson was arrested and charged with improperly carrying a firearm and ammunition, according to Fox News. Wilson’s weapon was unregistered in Hawaii, and he reportedly told officers that he purchased the gun in Florida four years earlier. He said that he was carrying the gun for protection while he hiked in West Maui. Wilson argued that prosecuting him for carrying a firearm for self-defense violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the right to “keep and bear arms” in D.C. v. Heller. Again, in 2022, the high court ruled in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” extends beyond protecting yourself at home.
In its Wednesday decision, however, the Hawaii Supreme Court argues that the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court, upholding Americans’ Second Amendment right to defend themselves with firearms outside the home, is an outdated application of the Constitution. The ruling reversed a lower-court decision that found Wilson’s rights were violated by the charges leveled against him, The Reload reported.
“We believe it is a misplaced view to think that today’s public safety laws must look like laws passed long ago. Smoothbore, muzzle-loaded, and powder-and-ramrod muskets were not exactly useful to colonial era mass murderers. And life is a bit different now, in a nation with a lot more people, stretching to islands in the Pacific Ocean,” the justices concluded, adding “As the world turns, it makes no sense for contemporary society to pledge allegiance to the founding era’s culture, realities, laws, and understanding of the Constitution.”
The opinion then goes on to quote a line from the HBO TV series “The Wire” with Eddins writing, “The thing about the old days, they the old days.”
Attorney and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley commented on the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision, writing, “Hawaii apparently is controlled not by the precedent of the Supreme Court but the ‘spirit of Aloha.’ While Queen Liliʻuokalani would be pleased, the justices on that ‘other’ Supreme Court may view such claims as more secessional than spiritual.”
Turley added that while the language in the state Supreme Court’s decision is strong, “The hyperbole of the decision does not mean that the Hawaii Supreme Court is prepared to defy the United States Supreme Court.”
“Indeed, other states are pushing their own bars on gun possession in public areas without such rhetoric,” he said.