There has been much bitter debate about gun control following the Orlando shooting. The murderer, Omar Mateen who was a security guard, legally purchased a Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifle and a Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol to murder 49 people and wound 53 more at the Pulse nightclub. The FBI had investigated the killer three years earlier to the bloody massacre, but they found nothing to charge him with. This week there was a sit-in protest by Democratic lawmakers who demanded stricter gun control measures. Now Hawaii has become the first state to require gun owners to be registered into the FBI database. On Thursday, the landmark legislation was signed by David Ige, the Democratic Governor of Hawaii.
“This will allow county police departments in Hawaii to evaluate whether the firearm owner may continue to legally possess and own firearms,” the Hawaii governor’s office said in a statement.
“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.”
The new bill allows the U.S. government to monitor gun owners for crimes committed not only in the state of Hawaii, but for anywhere in the country. Hawaii already requires all guns to be registered, but now they will be registered into a database that is a criminal monitoring service. The database is called the “Rap Back” system, and it is operated by the FBI. The system would notify police when a gun owner is arrested for a crime anywhere in the United States.
The bill, as with anything to do with guns in the United States, is extremely controversial, and many are questioning the legality of the new bill. Many believe that the bill is just another tactic by the U.S. government to invade privacy. Some question why a law-abiding citizen who is exercising a constitutional right should be entered into a criminal database.
The NRA quickly sounded off against the bill on Twitter.
“As you can imagine, the NRA finds this one of the most extreme bills we’ve ever seen,” said Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association’s institute for legislative action.
Maj. Richard Robinson from the Honolulu Police Department defended the law, which goes into effect immediately. “As a result, the county police departments have no way of knowing if a current Hawaii firearm owner has been convicted of a crime in another state that would prohibit him or her from owning a firearm,” Robinson said.
Hawaii Senator Will Espero, a Democrat who co-authored the law and owns a gun, called it “common sense legislation that does not hurt anyone.”