Hawaii Gun Licensing Rules on ‘Homesick’ Navy Officer’s Side

This story was written by Associated Press reporter Jennifer Sinco Kelleher.

HONOLULU (AP) — A US Navy officer stationed in Hawaii cannot be denied a gun license simply because he sought counseling for depression and homesickness, a federal judge ruled.

Michael Santucci, a cryptological warfare officer from Fort Myers, Fla., saw a doctor at a military hospital for depression and homesickness a few months after arriving in Hawaii last year, according to his lawsuit filed in April.

He has not been diagnosed with a disqualifying behavioral, emotional or mental disorder, the lawsuit states.

He later filled out forms to register his firearms with the Honolulu Police Department and indicated that he had been treated for depression, but noted it was “not serious.”

Hawaii law requires all firearms to be registered. Before acquiring a gun, an applicant must apply for a permit. Santucci required such a permit even though he legally owned his firearms before coming to Hawaii.

Because Santucci answered “yes” on a form that he had sought counseling, the permitting process was dropped and his firearms were confiscated, his attorneys said.

Honolulu must return Santucci’s firearms and complete gun registration, according to US District Judge Derrick Watson’s order issued on Wednesday.

A federal judge ruled a naval officer has the right to get a permit for his weapons, despite admitting he was being treated for depression. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Officials from Honolulu and the attorney general’s office did not immediately comment when asked in an email on Friday.

“This illustrates Hawaii’s strong opposition to anything approaching free exercise of the Second Amendment,” said Kevin O’Grady, one of Santucci’s attorneys, of the case.

The lawsuit was filed before a US Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights across the country forced Hawaii to begin issuing concealed carry licenses. Previously, it was virtually impossible to obtain these permits.

Santucci’s lawsuit focused only on a firearms license.

But Honolulu and the state must consider the Supreme Court’s decision when revising the process to ensure others are not prevented from obtaining permits based on disclosure of prior psychological counseling, said Alan Beck, another attorney, representing Santucci.

“What the judge is saying is that Honolulu is misapplying the law. You misunderstand Hawaiian law,” Santucci said. “If you ticked ‘yes’ at the consultation, then you have lost your gun rights.”