While the rate of suicide by firearm is little changed (-0.01%) over the past ten years, Hawaii’s total suicide rate has risen more than 59%, a much larger increase than the 22% increase in the U.S. suicide rate. The increase in Hawaii has been driven by an 88% increase in the number of suicides by suffocation, which is most commonly carried out by hanging.
It would appear that Hawaii’s gun laws have had essentially no impact on the rate of suicide.
All figures are based on Fatal Injury Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hawaii’s gun laws may get shaken up a bit in the not too distant future. In Young v. Hawaii, the Appeals Court for the Ninth Judicial District has ruled the state’s policy of not issuing carry permits unless they are employment-related (i.e., security guards, etc.) is unconstitutional. The state has already requested an en banc review by the court, but that appeal is on hold depending on the outcome of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. New York City, a case currently before the Supreme Court. Arguments were heard earlier this month and if the suit is not ruled moot, a ruling by the conservative majority could actually throw out Hawaii’s entire licensing system. A decision is expected by June 2020.
If the Young case does progress, the case will be presented to the Supreme Court no matter what the outcome of the current appeal might be. If the en banc review affirms the earlier decision, it would establish the open carry of handguns as a constitutional right if laws governing the concealed carry of handguns are allowed in the Ninth District.
Frankly, the shooting on the base at Pearl Harbor has nothing to do with Hawaii’s civil statutes. Romero was a member of the military, performing an assigned duty that required him to be armed with government-issued firearms. Whether or not the assignment was prudent is not the issue because the military does not operate by civilian rules or laws.
Speculation on Hawaii’s gun laws would be better focused on what might happen to them in the courts.