This article was originally posted on Guns.com
Wesley Duarte, owner of Kona Guns and Ammo, one of the only gun shops on the Big Island of Hawaii, tells us what it’s like to sell guns in the not-so-gun-friendly paradise.
Duarte opened his shop in 2013, in the city of Kona, on the western side of Hawaii. There is a smaller shop in Hilo, a city on the opposite side of the island, and one or two fishing supply stores that sell guns. But Duarte said he has the biggest inventory of guns and ammunition on the island, a claim backed up by many locals.
AR-15 rifles and Glock 17s are his top selling guns. The reason why the Glock 17 outsells the Glock 19 is because Hawaii doesn’t allow concealed carry. Hawaii does have a Castle Doctrine, but according to Duarte, it’s very strict. It must be a life threatening situation to use a firearm in self defense. “If someone breaks into your house and they’re trying to steal your TV, you can’t do anything about it but call the police and just wait,” he said.
Every firearm in Hawaii must be registered, whether it’s a pistol, rifle or shotgun. It must registered within five days of acquisition. It’s the state’s responsibility to run background checks. Someone wanting to buy a firearm must request a state-issued permit to acquire it. They are checked for felony charges, drug and alcohol charges, any type of violence charge and mental health conditions. If they pass, they receive a permit to buy. “As long as they come in with that permit,” Duarte said. “They’re allowed to own a firearm.”
Hawaii only has a 10-round magazine restriction on pistols, but there’s no limit for rifles and shotguns.
Perhaps the most frustrating law for Hawaii gun owners relates to transporting firearms. According to Duarte, it’s a point A to point B type law. It only allows for the transportation of firearms in a vehicle between a residence, place of business, a gun shop, gunsmith, a police station (to register your gun) or a private property where you’re allowed to shoot or hunt. Other than these places, you cannot stop with firearms in a vehicle, not even for gas or food. “It’s pretty strict on transporting. Which makes it difficult,” Duarte said.
Without a doubt, the strict gun laws hurt his business. “A lot of people don’t want to go through the process,” he said. “They’re just turned off by it.”
He admitted that the Obama administration helped sales but, “Luckily, none of the laws passed that he tried to push,” he said. During the first few months of the Trump presidency, Duarte saw his sales plummet. As a result, he lowered his prices. As time passed, things began to normalize. The lower prices along with people getting comfortable have returned his sales to normal.