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Generally, anyone wishing to acquire a firearm must obtain a permit.1 In 2017, Hawaii enacted a law that requires the chief of police who is responsible for issuing permits to report applicants who fail a background check to law enforcement and other agencies.2 The 2017 law and the criteria for permit eligibility are discussed in the Hawaii Background Checks section.

“The permit application form shall include the applicant’s name, address, sex, height, weight, date of birth, place of birth, country of citizenship, social security number, alien or admission number, and information regarding the applicant’s mental health history and shall require the fingerprinting and photographing of the applicant by the police department of the county of registration.”3

An applicant for a permit must sign a waiver at the time of the application allowing the chief of police of the county issuing the permit access to any records that have a bearing on the mental health of the applicant.4

Permits to acquire a handgun require a separate application and permit for each transaction, and are void if not used within ten days after the date of issue.5 Permits to acquire a rifle or shotgun entitle the permittee to make subsequent purchases of rifles or shotguns for a period of one year from the date of issue without a separate application and permit for each acquisition, subject to the disqualifications under state law.6

One copy of the permit must be retained by the issuing authority as a permanent official record.7

Under state law, no person may obtain a permit to acquire a handgun unless he or she has completed:

  • An approved hunter education course as authorized under state law;8
  • A firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law enforcement agency of the state or of any county;
  • A firearms safety or training course offered to law enforcement officers, security guards, investigators, deputy sheriffs, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement by a state or county law enforcement agency; or
  • A firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a state certified or National Rifle Association certified firearms instructor or a certified military firearms instructor that provides, at a minimum, a total of at least two hours of firing training at a firing range and a total of at least four hours of classroom instruction, which may include a video, that focuses on:
    • The safe use, handling, and storage of firearms and firearm safety in the home; and
    • Education on the firearm-related laws of Hawaii.9

No permit to acquire a firearm shall be issued earlier than 14 calendar days after the date of the application, except for sales to state or federally licensed dealers, law enforcement officers, persons with a license to carry a handgun, or where a firearm is registered pursuant to state law.10 See the Hawaii Registration of Firearms section for additional information. All permits must be issued or the application denied before the 20th day from the date of application.11

State law provides that:

  • In all cases where a handgun is acquired from another person within the state, the buyer’s permit to acquire a handgun must be signed in ink by the buyer and delivered to the seller. The seller must verify that the buyer is the person named in the permit and enter on the permit: 1) the name of the person to whom the title to the handgun was transferred; 2) names of the manufacturer and importer; 3) the model; 4) the type of action; 5) the caliber or gauge; and 6) the serial number as applicable. The seller must then sign the permit in ink and send it by registered mail to the issuing authority within 48 hours after transferring the firearm.
  • In all cases where receipt of a firearm comes by mail, express, freight, or otherwise from sources outside Hawaii, the buyer shall make the prescribed entries on the permit, sign the permit in ink, and send it by registered mail to the issuing authority within 48 hours after taking possession of the firearm.
  • In all cases where a rifle or shotgun is acquired from another person within the state, the seller must submit, within 48 hours after transferring the firearm, to the authority which issued the permit to acquire: 1) the seller’s name; 2) the buyer’s name; 3) names of the manufacturer and importer; 4) the model; 5) the type of action; 6) the caliber or gauge; and 7) serial number.12 Permits to acquire may be revoked for good cause by the issuing authority or by the judge of any court.13

Permits to acquire are exempt from the requirements of the Brady Act. Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful.14 Consult the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart outlining those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination is subject to change without notice.

In 2016, Hawaii enacted a law authorizing county police departments to enroll firearms permit applicants into the federal Rap Back service. The FBI defines the Rap Back service as a service that “allows authorized agencies to receive notification of activity on individuals who hold positions of trust (e.g. school teachers, daycare workers) or who are under criminal justice supervision or investigation, thus eliminating the need for repeated background checks on a person from the same applicant agency.”15


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  1. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(a).[]
  2. Id. at 2(j).[]
  3. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(b).[]
  4. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(c).[]
  5. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(e).[]
  6. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(e); See also, Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-7.[]
  7. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(e).[]
  8. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 183D-28.[]
  9. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(g).[]
  10. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134-3(a), 134-2(e).[]
  11. Id.[]
  12. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-2(f).[]
  13. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-13.[]
  14. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d).[]
  15. Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134-2, 3; 846-2.7(b)(42.[]