With very few exceptions, all firearms in Hawaii must be registered. To acquire a firearm, either through purchase, gift, inheritance, or any other manner, all persons must first obtain a permit (see the Hawaii Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers section) and then must register the firearm with the county police chief within five days of acquiring it.1 The registration must include the name of the manufacturer and importer, model, type of action, caliber or gauge, serial number, and source from which the firearm was obtained, including the name and address of the prior registrant. If the firearm has no serial number, the permit number shall be entered in the space provided for the serial number, and the permit number shall be engraved upon the receiver portion of the firearm prior to registration.2
All registration data that would identify the individual registering the firearm by name or address are confidential and shall not be disclosed to anyone, except if required by a law enforcement agency for the lawful performance of its duties or as may be required by order of a court.3
State or federally licensed dealers shall register their firearms, but are not required to have the firearms physically inspected by the chief of police at the time of registration.4
Under state law, every person arriving in Hawaii who brings or causes to be brought into Hawaii a firearm must register the firearm within five days of the person’s or the firearm’s arrival, whichever arrives later.5 Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from bringing firearms into the state.6 When registering their firearm, such persons must be fingerprinted and photographed by the police department of the county of registration, although this requirement shall be waived where fingerprints and photographs are already on file with the police department.7 The police department must perform an inquiry on the person by using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System before any determination to register a firearm is made.8
In 2016, Hawaii enacted a law authorizing county police departments to enroll firearms permit applicants and individuals who are registering their firearms 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.”9
State law also provides that a nonresident alien may bring into the state up to ten firearms not otherwise prohibited by law for a continuous period not to exceed 90 days for firing range or target shooting activities.10
State law exempts the following firearms from the registration requirement:
- Any device that is designed to fire loose black powder or that is a firearm manufactured before 1899;
- Any device not designed to fire or made incapable of being readily restored to fire; or
- All unserviceable firearms and destructive devices registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the U.S. Department of Justice pursuant to Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations.11
In an effort to better track the number of firearms in the state, in 2020, Hawaii enacted a law requiring every person who permanently moves firearms out of the state to contact and notify the county police department in the county where the firearms are registered about the removal of the firearms within five days of the removal from the state.12
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- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(b).
- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(c).
- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(a).
- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(f).
- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134-2, 3; 846-2.7(b)(42.
- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(a).
- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(d).
- Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134-3(e).