Have you been in therapy? You can still register your firearm in Honolulu, a judge rules

City attorneys said the ruling will not affect who might be eligible to register firearms.

People who report being diagnosed with a behavioral, emotional or mental disorder can no longer be prevented from registering a firearm in the city and county of Honolulu, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

US District Court Judge Derrick Watson made permanent a preliminary injunction he issued in November, which ruled that the Honolulu Police Department could not bar a US Navy officer from searching firearms because he reported seeking counseling for feeling homesick and depressed on the registration form.

HPD can no longer require an applicant for a firearms permit to provide a written certification from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or physician.

Since November, HPD has changed its registration forms.

HPD Police Department Main Station firearms registration area.
People who want to register a firearm may no longer put off seeking therapy, attorney Alan Beck said. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018)

The judge also ruled that Honolulu must pay legal costs of $102,500 and the state of Hawaii must pay $28,000, pending negotiations.

“This lawsuit absolutely helped people’s Second Amendment rights and beyond anything else, it helped their medical rights,” said Alan Beck, a San Diego attorney who worked with Honolulu attorney Kevin O’Grady. on the demand.

People who want to register a firearm may no longer put off seeking therapy, he said.

“People have the right to seek therapy and psychiatric help without the government encroaching on their rights,” Beck said. “This is a system that penalizes people who have voluntarily sought psychiatric treatment.”

“Today marks another significant Second Amendment victory in Hawaii, all thanks to one nostalgic sailor,” the Hawaii Firearms Coalition announced in a social media post Thursday morning.

More City Information Pending

It all started when Michael Santucci, a Navy officer, was stationed in Hawaii in February 2021. After a few months, he was feeling down and homesick and went to see a medical provider, according to the lawsuit he filed. A couple of months later, he went to HPD to fill out forms to register his firearms.

To the question, “Have you been diagnosed with a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder?” Santucci responded “yes” and added “it’s not serious.”

HPD then took away his weapons and gave him a new form that required a written certification from a psychiatrist, doctor, or psychologist that he is no longer “adversely affected.”

HPD stopped your application. Santucci sued.

When the judge issued the preliminary injunction in November, Santucci got his guns back. HPD then added more specific fields to its questionnaire. Now the mandate is permanent, banning the old ways forever.

With the new forms, the background investigation has become more detailed without eroding the application.

“Hawaii’s firearms laws, including the state’s ban on firearm possession by persons diagnosed with a significant mental disorder, remain fully enforceable throughout the state,” said Dave Day, Special Assistant to the Attorney General. from Hawaii.

Attorneys for the city and county of Honolulu also do not believe the ruling would have any impact on who might be eligible to register firearms.

“HPD will have better and more detailed information from members of the public who wish to register firearms,” said corporate counsel Dana Viola in a statement. “In addition, due to the changes in the forms and procedures, the circumstances that led to the Santucci case will not occur again.”

HPD can still perform mental health background checks, Viola said.

Beck, who pressed the case, says the new ruling only sets in stone the preliminary injunction issued in November.

“The preliminary injunction did all the heavy lifting,” Beck said. “We argued that, well, here we have a law that just doesn’t make sense.”