The Hawaii chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after the House Judiciary Committee passed HB 2464, a Shoot First bill that essentially makes murder legal, letting people use deadly force as the first option rather than the last, even when they can clearly and safely walk away. New research from The Journal of the American Medical Association shows Shoot First laws have resulted in 700 additional gun deaths every year.
Lawmakers passed the legislation during the same week that marks two years since the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and 10 years since the murder of Trayvon Martin. Both shootings illuminated the deadly impacts of Shoot First laws, also known by gun lobby allies as Stand Your Ground laws.
“This law isn’t about self-defense – instead it’s an attempt by the gun lobby to sneak its “shoot first,” “guns everywhere” agenda into Hawaii,” said Erica Yamauchi, a volunteer with the Hawaii chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This week should have been a reminder of the destruction this type of policy can have on families and communities, but unfortunately our lawmakers didn’t step up to reject this dangerous policy. Hawaii has some of the lowest rates of gun violence in our country and that’s in large part due to our strong gun safety laws. Passing laws that are proven to bring more gun violence doesn’t make sense. We urge the House to understand the severity of this bill and reject it this session.”
Analysis from Everytown Support Fund found that homicides with a white perpetrator and a Black victim are far more likely to be ruled justified than cases with a Black perpetrator and a white victim. Shoot First laws are part of the gun lobby’s decades-long narrative that everyone should live in a fear-based society, and that anyone should have the right to carry and use a gun anywhere, anytime, with no questions asked. But taking a life should always be a last resort—not the first.
Statistics about gun violence in Hawaii are available here, and more information about secure storage devices is available here. Everytown’s interactive gun law platform — which shows the direct correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of gun deaths — is available here. If you have questions or want to request an interview with a volunteer from Hawaii Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.