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Hawaii Proposes Becoming First State to Put All Gun Owners in Federal Database

Supporters say the program would make Hawaii safer. Critics warn of government infringement.
A National Rifle Association' convention in 2014.
A National Rifle Association' convention in 2014.AJ Mast / AP

Hawaii could break new ground on gun control by entering firearm owners into a federal database that will allow police to find out when any of them get arrested.

The proposal, which has passed the state Legislature and is awaiting a signature from Gov. David Ige, has drawn criticism from gun owners and some legal scholars who say it would infringe on owners' rights.

But others say it would probably withstand court challenges, since the Supreme Court has backed states' ability to regulate gun sales.

The bill involves an FBI database known as the "Rap Back" that currently tracks people who are in "positions of trust," such as school teachers and people who work with the elderly. Stephen Fischer of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division told The Associated Press. Hawaii would add gun owners to the list.

Supporters say the program would make Hawaii a leader in safe gun laws, and serve as a model for other states.

Some local gun owners say the law confirms their fear that the government would know exactly who and where people keep their firearms.

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