Saturday, February 23, 2008

HPD Urges Lawmakers to Ban .50-caliber Rifles

Photo: Honolulu Star-Bulletin. HPD officer Ron Taira shows various high caliber weapons at yesterday's news conference. At left is the .50 caliber Barrett semi-automatic.

It's a matter of public safety vs. the constitutional right to own weapons. The Honolulu Police Department held a news conference yesterday to drum up support for HB2999, a bill that would, among other things, ban the ownership and use of .50-caliber rifles in Hawaii. The bill has a single referral to the Judiciary committee. Judiciary heard the bill on Feb. 12th and decided to defer it. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin's story is here. The Advertiser's story is here. According to HPD, there are currently 125 such rifles in Hawaii, with about 90 on Oahu.

Law enforcement supports the bill citing the potential damage of a weapon using such a high caliber bullet. The Hawaii Rifle Association opposes the bill saying it is their constitutional right to bear arms. Major Gregory Lefcourt provided media with an example of the rifles capabilities:

"It was designed for the military," Lefcourt said. "People have said they can use this for hunting, but the damage it will do to an animal is so tremendous, it actually vaporizes the area that it strikes."

To draw a comparison, police officials displayed a .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle and compared it with a Remington .308 rifle and an M4 assault rifle. Lefcourt said the Barrett would be able to accurately strike a target from the top of the Police Department's downtown headquarters, where yesterday's news conference was held, to the state Capitol, a distance of 0.4 miles. (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

The news conference was held to gain public support and consideration from lawmakers. While the State Department of Defense, HPD and SHOPO supported the bill, the overwhelming majority of testifiers who are gun advocates strongly opposed the bill. Links to testimony can be found here.


Anonymous said...

I hope lawmakers have the guts to stand up to the gun advocates on this one. There is absolutely no reason why a weapon of this kind is needed in Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

Cars that are capable of going over the speed limit should be banned along with motorcycles. Oh wait, we have laws regarding who can drive. So, how many traffic deaths have there been compared to killings by fire arms?

Anonymous said...

This Lefcourt is plain wrong. These rifles were not designed for the military period. They were adopted by the military from civilian use. There is an competition using the .50 BMG round for long range target shooting.
Here is another fact taken from the web site:
# .50 Caliber rifles are not the weapon of choice of the criminal. The .50 caliber rifle is too large and heavy to be employed in normal criminal behavior, and accessibility to ammo is difficult because of its high expense and the availability through retail sales outlets is limited.
# The decision to purchase a .50 caliber should be given careful consideration. .50 caliber rifles are expensive and range in price from $2500.00 to more than $7000.00. The sport of competitive shooting also carries with it a commitment of significant financial obligation with all the ancillary support equipment that is necessary.
In parting do you really believ this would be used a described? maybe but not very likely. Imagine this. Some guy is going to rob a bank with one of these? at about four feet long and minimum of 20 pounds. get real...

Anonymous said...

How many rights are Americans willing to give up their freedom for their safety. This is a blatant attempt to violate our 2nd amendment rights. and what good is passing a law going to do? automatic weapons are illegal do you believe that criminals can't get their hands on them. what about drugs like cocaine and heroine just because they aren't legal doesn't mean that they can't be gotten. If these weapons are legal at least we can keep track of who is buying them and make sure only the right people are allowed to buy them. that's why you have to have a background check to buy firearms. making these weapons illegal is only going to sweep the problem under the carpet and ensure that ONLY criminals have these weapons.