- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - A record number of firearms were registered in Hawaii last year, prolonging a run of steady increases since 2000, the state attorney general’s office said in a report released Thursday.

A total of 60,757 firearms were registered in 2013, marking a nearly 21 percent increase from the 2012 record of 50,394, the report states.

In addition, 21,544 permits were issued to acquire those firearms.

Despite the increases over the years, firearm-related violent crimes remained low and stable through 2007 and subsequently decreased, the Department of the Attorney General said in a statement.

Hawaii is the only state that requires firearms to be registered at a statewide level, said criminologist Paul Perrone, the department’s chief of research who prepared the report.

“Hawaii is a great example of how strong, common-sense gun laws can work to make people safer,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the legal action project of Washington, D.C.-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Hawaii is sort of a good test case that shows if the United States had strong federal gun laws, and you couldn’t circumvent them by going to weak gun-law states, you’d have a lot less gun violence.”

Hawaii’s permit allows someone to purchase a firearm, transport it to limited places such as a shooting range or gunsmith, or use it for hunting. A permit to acquire rifles or shotguns is good for a year.

A handgun permit is required for every transaction. An applicant must have specific information about the make, model and serial number of a gun to be purchased before getting the permit.

Applicants apply through police then get fingerprinted and photographed for various background checks. There’s also a 14-day waiting period. All firearms must be registered with police within 72 hours of purchase.

According to the report, about 62 percent of all firearms registered last year were for rifles or shotguns. The remainder was for handguns.

Carrying a gun in public in Hawaii requires a license that’s sparingly approved by county chiefs of police.

Last year, 205 employees of private security firms were issued carry licenses and two were denied, the report said. All seven private citizens who applied for the concealed-carry license in Honolulu were denied. Kauai’s police chief approved the one private citizen who applied last year.

“That’s the first one reported since we began tracking these data in 2000,” Perrone said of the Kauai approval.

Most of the states are considered “shall issue” states, meaning law enforcement doesn’t decide who can get a conceal-carry license. In those states, if basic criteria are met, someone can be allowed to carry a gun in public, Lowy said.

Hawaii is one of nine states that are considered “may issue” states, Lowy said.

A federal appeals court opinion last month said a lower court was wrong to rule that a Hawaii man couldn’t prove the state’s restrictions on carrying firearms violate the Second Amendment.

Christopher Baker filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the Honolulu Police Department after he was denied a license to carry a gun in public for self-defense.

The appeals court ruling sent his motion for a preliminary injunction back to U.S. District Court.

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Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at https://www.twitter.com/JenHapa .

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