Lawsuit against Maui County remains despite council’s vote to allow Taser sales
Maui residents are the only ones in Hawaiʻi who can’t buy a Taser in their county, and the representative of a lawsuit against the county said the legal pressure won’t stop until that changes.
“Until they actually put the process in place and they start issuing licenses and we actually see Tasers being sold in the County of Maui, the lawsuit is going to continue on its same path,” Andrew Namiki Roberts, director of the Hawaiʻi Firearms Coalition, told Maui Now on Monday afternoon.
Maui County Council on Friday voted unanimously to approve on second and final reading a bill that would create a path for the sales of electric guns, including Tasers. Now, the bill awaits Mayor Michael Victorino’s signature.
When asked the timeline for Victorino to sign, county spokesman Brian Perry said today that Victorino has until May 23 to take action on the bill.
Roberts, though, said there is no reason for gun sales to be taking this long.
“We think this is going to be an indefinite process where the county is going to say, ‘OK, we’ve got a process, now pay us your $50 and we will give you a license, and then they will just never issue them for months on end until they’re eventually forced to,” he said.
State law allowing electric gun sales went into effect Jan. 1 of this year, and Maui County officials confirmed other Hawaiʻi counties have been selling them. Mauians could fly to Oʻahu or another island to legally purchase an electric gun and bring it home.
Hawaiʻi Firearms Coalition, a statewide nonprofit that focuses on firearm rights, along with Maui Ammo and Gun Supply, a gun retailer in Wailuku, and Christy Gusman, a Maui resident who is seeking an electric gun, filed the lawsuit in federal court for the District of Hawaiʻi more than a month ago.
It alleges that the county and the council are intentionally delaying the process to make transactions legal and pushes for legalization. Lawsuit representatives have said the county is against the electric gun sales and has added regulations that are too stringent and costly.
County officials, though, said council is following regular timelines and protocols for enacting legislation to regulate future sales.
Also, county Deputy Corporation Counsel Keola Whittaker said that he suspects the lawsuit was only filed so gun-rights activists could take credit for the ordinance that was going to be passed anyway. He called it “unnecessary,” “frivolous” and a “waste of taxpayer money.”
Once the bill is passed, which the council was planning to do, the lawsuit will likely be dismissed, Whittaker has said.
Before the vote Friday, Council Member Tasha Kama said she would like to move quickly.
“I would like to pass this today so there’s no time wasted so that we can, as our Corporation Counsel has told us earlier, that in resolving this it actually mitigates the lawsuit against us,” she said.
The ordinance approved Friday removed expensive insurance requirements for sellers and shifted the permitting from the police chief to the finance director.