According to Chapter 134 of the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, “Firearms, Ammunition and Dangerous Weapons,” all firearms in Hawaiʻi must be registered whether or not they are serviceable and no matter how they are acquired. The following exceptions apply:
- Registration is not mandatory for rifles and shotguns acquired in the state of Hawaiʻi prior to July, 1994. However, one permit per rifle or shotgun was required for acquisitions between 1981 and July, 1994.
- Registration is not required for firearms designed to fire loose black powder and for firearms manufactured before 1899, but permits are required.
However, all firearms imported into Hawaiʻi from out of state must be registered. See Registration of Firearms for more information.
On the Big Island, residents must register their firearms with the Hawaiʻi Police Department. Residents may apply for a permit to acquire a firearm or register their firearms at their district police station.
Below are the steps you must follow to acquire, register and transfer possession of firearms:
Permit to Acquire
If you wish to acquire a handgun or wish to acquire a shotgun or rifle for the first time, you must be at least 21 years old and a United States citizen. You must apply for a permit to acquire a firearm. If you were not born in the United States, you will need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship.
HRS 134-2 states: “No person shall acquire the ownership of a firearm, whether usable or unusable, serviceable or unserviceable, modern or antique, registered under prior law or by prior owner or unregistered, either by purchase, gift, inheritance, bequest, or in any other manner, whether procured in the state or imported by mail, until the person has first procured from the chief of police of the county of the person’s place of business or…residence…a permit to acquire the ownership of a firearm as prescribed in this section.”
For the complete wording of the state law governing firearm permits, see Section 134-2 of the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes.
You must apply for a separate permit for each handgun you wish to acquire, but only one permit is required for rifles or shotguns no matter how many you wish to acquire with in year’s time. Before you are granted a permit to purchase a handgun, you must successfully complete a hunter education class or a gun safety course conducted by an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association. The number to call to register for a hunter education class is 887-6050. To sign up for a NRA class, you should check with a local firearms dealer.
The applicant for a handgun permit must provide proof of a State of Hawaiʻi Hunter Education course or an affidavit signed by a certified NRA instructor. The affidavit signed by the certified firearms instructor who conducted or taught the course (providing the name, address, and phone number of the instructor and attesting to the successful completion of the course by the applicant) shall constitute evidence of certified successful completion under this paragraph.
Fees — you will be charged a one-time fee of $14.75 for a fingerprint check if you are seeking a permit for the first time. No fee is charged if you are seeking a second or subsequent permit to acquire a firearm. Payment must be made by Money Order or Cashier’s Check only, payable to Hawaiʻi Criminal Justice Data Center.
If you receive a firearm by inheritance or bequest, you must first apply for a permit to acquire before actually taking possession of the firearm. You may, however, transfer the inherited or bequeathed firearm directly to a dealer licensed by the state of Hawaiʻi without having to apply for a permit. You may also relinquish the firearm to Hawaiʻi Police Department for destruction.
There is a minimum waiting period of 14 calendar days between the time you apply for a permit and the time you may be granted the permit. This waiting period gives the Police Department time to conduct a background check to make sure you are eligible for a permit to acquire.
Persons are not eligible to own or possess a firearm or ammunition if:
- They are a fugitive from justice.
- They are under indictment, have waived indictment or have been bound over to the circuit court for a felony, any crime of violence or illegal sale of any drug.
- Have been convicted of a felony, any crime of violence or illegal sale of any drug.
- Are or have been under treatment or counseling for addiction to or abuse of any dangerous, harmful or detrimental drug or alcohol.
- Have been acquitted of a crime on the grounds of mental disease or mental disorder.
- Have been diagnosed as having a significant behavioral, emotional or mental disorder or for treatment for organic brain syndromes.
- Are younger than 25 and have been adjudicated by the family court to have committed a felony, two or more crimes of violence or an illegal sale of any drug.
- Have been restrained by court order from contacting, threatening or physically abusing another person.
Registration of Firearms
Once you receive a permit to acquire a firearm, you must register all firearms with the Hawaiʻi Police Department within five days of purchase or acquisition.
If you move to Hawaiʻi and bring in a firearm of any description, you must register the firearm within five days after the firearm enters the state. If you were not born in the United States, you will need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Fees — you will be charged a one-time fee of $14.75 for a fingerprint check. Payment must be made by Money Order or Cashier’s Check only, payable to Hawaiʻi Criminal Justice Data Center.
Before coming to the police station (at home or at the gun dealer’s establishment):
- Unload your firearm. Transporting a loaded firearm is against the law.
- Prepare your firearm by having it “open” and visually safe (bolt removed; clip removed and slide in open position; cylinder removed or in open position etc.)
- Transport your firearms in an enclosed container. It is the law.
- DO NOT enter the building with any kind of ammunition in your possession.
- Please be advised that if the firearm is not “open” and visually safe for inspection prior to coming into the station, we will not be able to register it. You may be asked to leave with your firearm and return during the next working day or next available appointment.
IMPORTANT! If for any reason you bring a loaded firearm or a firearm and ammunition into the police station, you may be subject to arrest. If you are unsure about procedure, secure your firearm and ask for assistance.
Once you register a firearm, the registration will remain valid until you sell or otherwise dispose of the weapon.
Transfer, Possession of Firearms
You may not lend any rifle or shotgun to anyone younger than 18 except for the purposes of hunting or target shooting.
Except for the purposes of hunting or target shooting, you may not possess any firearm owned by another without a permit from the police chief.
For the purposes of hunting or target shooting, you may lend a lawfully acquired rifle or shotgun to an adult for use within the state for up to 15 days without a permit from the police chief. If the firearm is to be used outside the state, it may be on loan for up to 75 days.
You may not knowingly lend a firearm to any person who is prohibited from ownership or possession of a firearm.
You may not bring into the state an assault pistol or sell or transfer an assault pistol to anyone other than a licensed dealer. If you acquire an assault pistol through inheritance or bequest, you must render the weapon permanently inoperable, sell or transfer it to a licensed dealer or turn it in to the Hawaiʻi Police Department within 90 days.
Anyone 16 years of age or older or anyone younger than 16 when accompanied by an adult may carry and use any lawfully acquired rifle or shotgun and suitable ammunition while engaged in hunting or target shooting or traveling to and from the place of hunting or target shooting.
If you sell or transfer the ownership of a handgun, you must obtain the recipient’s permit at the time of sale or transfer. You are required to sign the permit in ink and submit the permit to the Hawaiʻi Police Department within 48 hours of the transfer via hand delivery or registered mail.
If you sell or transfer the ownership of a rifle or shotgun, you must submit a Sale/Transfer of Rifle/Shotgun form (PDF) to the Hawaiʻi Police Department within forty-eight hours of the transfer via hand delivery or registered mail. The form must be completed and signed in ink by the vendor or transferrer.
License to Carry
In exceptional cases when an adult applicant shows reason to fear injury or is engaged in the protection of life and property, the Hawaiʻi County police chief may grant a license to carry. For detailed information on who may be granted a license, see Section 134-9 of the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes.