Hawaii May Add Gun Owners to FBI Database

Honolulu, Hawaii.

It sounds like something gun rights advocates have been warning about for years: Hawaii could be the first state in the country to enter its gun owners into a federal database—simply because they’re gun owners.

The FBI-operated database would automatically notify police if a resident gun owner is arrested anywhere else in the country.

Nicknamed the "Rap Back" database, in other states it's used to keep tabs on people in "positions of trust," such as school teachers and bus drivers, according to this story from the Denver Post. Hawaii might be the first state to add gun owners as a new state law moves forward. Since the state requires its residents to register all firearms, it would simply mean adding the names to the FBI database.

"I don't like the idea of us being entered into a database. It basically tells us that they know where the guns are, they can go grab them," said Jerry Ilo, a firearm and hunting instructor for the state, in the story. "We get the feeling that Big Brother is watching us."

State Sen. Will Espero (D), who introduced the bill along with other supporters and the Honolulu Police Department, said in the story that Hawaii could serve as a model for other states if the bill becomes law.

Opponents of the bill says gun owners shouldn’t have to be entered in a database to practice a constitutional right.

"You're curtailing that right by requiring that a name be entered into a database without doing anything wrong," said Kenneth Lawson in the story. He is a member of the faculty at the University of Hawaii's William S. Richardson School of Law.

The bill will undergo a legal review process by departments including the Attorney General’s Office, which supported the bill, before Gov. David Ige decides if he will sign it into law. The cost to enter the names in the database will be covered by a fee paid by gun owners, of course.

Hawaii residents undergo a background check when they register a firearm, which is required by law.

"This is an extremely dangerous bill. Exercising a constitutional right is not inherently suspicious," said Amy Hunter, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, in the story. "Hawaii will now be treating firearms as suspect and subject to constant monitoring."