- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii gun owners are speaking out against a bill they say would allow police to take their guns without due process.

State lawmakers moved forward Wednesday with a bill to force gun owners to immediately surrender firearms after undergoing an emergency hospitalization for mental health issues. The proposed law would require police to give gun owners written notice to immediately surrender all firearms. But if gun owners fail to do so, the chief of police could seize all firearms and ammunition.

Under the bill, guns would be held in police custody until the person is medically cleared of conditions or until the guns were sold by the owner.

Supporters say getting firearms out of a mentally ill person’s hands as quickly as possible is critical to preventing dangerous situations. The Hawaii County Prosecutor’s office and the Honolulu Police Department were in support of the bill, saying it wouldn’t give any additional authority to the police, but would instead close a loophole that allows Hawaii residents to keep their guns for 30 days after being deemed mentally ill.

“Currently, even in the most volatile situations, county police officers are prohibited from immediately recovering a firearm from an owner who is suffering from mental illness,” said Maj. Richard Robinson of the Honolulu Police Department.

The proposed law was largely opposed by gun owners who say it could violate constitutional rights.

“Doing something about gun violence doesn’t make it OK to take someone’s gun possession rights away without due process,” Pablo Wegesend said in opposition to the bill.

Daniel Reid, state liaison for the National Rifle Association, said the bill ignores due process because it doesn’t require a judicial order, and instead takes away a constitutional right simply for receiving medical treatment.

National experts say Hawaii has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. State data shows less than 1 percent of applications to register firearms in Hawaii were denied in 2014, about 18 percent of which were denied for mental health reasons.

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