Monday, June 05, 2023

HI: Santucci Wins! Honolulu may not Arbitrarily Deny Gun Registration on Made-up Pretext


 On March 3, 2022, a lawsuit was filed against the City and County of Honolulu. The plaintiff, Michael Santucci, was a naval officer (an LTJG, or O2) with a top secret clearance, working as a Cryptologic Warfare officer.  In Hawaii, all firearms, must be registered except for firearms made before 1899 or which are designed to use loose black powder.

During the registration process, in early July of 2021, Santucci truthfully answered that he had seen a medical provider for feelings of depression and homesickness. Santucci was not diagnosed with any significant "behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder".  Because Santucci truthfully answered the question on the registration form, he was told he had to deliver his firearms to the Honolulu Police. He turned them in. The police demanded Santucci receive medical clearance before they would issue a permit to acquire his firearms. Santucci fired suit against the City and County of Hawaii on grounds his Second Amendment rights were being violated, as the police were arbitrarily refusing to register his firearms when nothing in the Hawaiian law allowed them to do so. The suit was filed in the United States  District Court for the District of Hawaii.

The case continued for most of the next 15 months. A preliminary injunction was issued on November 23, 2023.  As a result of the preliminary injunction, LTJG Santucci had his firearms returned to him, as revealed by the Honolulu Civil Beat:

When the judge issued the preliminary injunction in November, Santucci
got his guns back. Then HPD added more specific fields to its
questionnaire. Now the injunction is permanent, banning the old forms
for good.

A settlement was reached on May 24, 2023, eleven months after the Bruen case was decided by the Supreme Court on June 22, 2022. The results of the settlement are, in short:  The settlement includes $130,500 dollars which includes damages, lawyers fees, and costs. From the court approved stipulation:

3) In full and final settlement and satisfaction of all claims by Plaintiff for damages, fees, including attorneys’ fees, and costs in The Lawsuit-

A) County shall pay a payment of $102,500, one-hundred-two-thousand- five-hundred dollars, subject to Honolulu City Council approval; 

B) Hawaii shall pay a payment of $28,000, twenty-eight-thousand dollars, subject to approval by the Hawaii State Legislature and Governor; 

C) Counsel for the County and Hawaii shall, in good faith, seek approvals from the City Council and the State Legislature.

If the City of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii do not approve of the settlement, and refuse to obligate the money by August 31 for the City, and September 15 for the State of Hawaii, the settlement is void and will end up back in court.

The City of Honolulu Police department changed the forms it uses for the registration of firearms.  The refusal to register LTJG Santucci's firearms, on a non-existant reading of the law resulted in changes in the process.

These cases are useful steps in forcing states and local governments to treat the Second Amendment with the same respect other fundamental, Constitutional rights are treated. Because of the lawsuit, the procedures of the Honolulu Police Department were changed. The same type of "catch 22", where a person who truthfully answers questions which do not debar him from exercise of Second Amendment rights, will be less likely to happen again.

Opinion: The entire system of registration of firearms is almost certainly unconstitutional. No system of firearms registration existed in American law in the late colonial or early Republic periods. Registration of firearms starts very, very late, in Florida in 1893, and even that was found to be unconstitutional. This correspondent expects registration regimes to be challenged in the courts, but the necessary foundation of the right to possess and carry arms has been more urgent.


©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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1 comment:

ScienceABC123 said...

Again, this nonsense is only going to end one of two ways: either the US Supreme Court finally rules all gun control laws are unconstitutional, or a second Civil War. I hope for the former, but fear it will be the latter.