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Suit Challenges Hawaii’s Denial of American Samoan’s Right to Own Gun

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Article first appeared on Ammoland.com

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- A July 27 lawsuit, filed by attorney Alan Beck in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for Honolulu County resident Alanoa Nickel, denied the ability to apply for a permit to own a handgun by Hawaiian law. The complaint names State Attorney General Clare E. Connors, State Sheriff Division Administrator Al Cummings, and the City and County of Honolulu as defendants.

Hawaii Revised Statute § 134-2 restricts non-citizen U.S. nationals from owning firearms, the memorandum in support of motion for preliminary injunction notes. Nickel is a Samoan, from a U.S. territory.

“American Samoans are the only ones affected by this law because people born in the other territories are considered U.S. citizens,” the memorandum explains. “Plaintiff is a law-abiding U.S. National, a resident of the State of Hawaii and has no disqualifying factor which would prohibit him from legally and safely owning a firearm apart from being a noncitizen U.S. National.”

“American Samoan noncitizen U.S. Nationals, such as Plaintiff, are part of the ‘people,’” the memorandum reminds the court.

Further, Nickel “is an honorably discharged veteran of the Air National Guard,” and per U.S. Code:

“The term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.

It’s tough to owe permanent allegiance to a government that denies your basic human rights. Yet in spite of that, the memorandum further points out (and documents):

“American Samoa is noted for having the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory. As of September 9, 2014, the local U.S. Army recruiting station in Pago Pago was ranked first in production out of the 885 Army recruiting stations and centers under the United States Army Recruiting Command.”

What’s more, in 2019, a federal judge in Utah ruled that American Samoans are U.S. citizens by birth. (The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to make that apply throughout.)

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Still, it’s not like American Samoa’s gun laws are any better than Hawaii’s. All guns owned must be licensed (curiously, the federal Brady Act applies) and there are no provisions to carry for defense. Also curiously, per HandgunLaw.us:

“American Samoa Residents can carry in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi. Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. These states allow anyone who can legally possess a firearm to carry it concealed without any type of permit/license.”

Fixing the problems in American Samoa (and other U.S. territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands) are issues for other efforts seeing as how “shall not be infringed” is not limited to territories, but routinely ignored throughout the Republic wherever “gun laws” establish prohibitions and prior restraints on the general citizenry. The scope of this issue is limited to Nickel’s challenge and the State of Hawaii has no excuse for perpetuating such blatant discriminatory denial of rights.

That the state government does not take it upon itself to fix this without the need for a lawsuit to force a correction tells us much about the character of those presuming themselves to be in charge of the rights of others.

Tangentially related: Young Case against Hawaii Carry Ban Finally Moving Forward


About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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