Citing “Aloha Spirit,” Hawaii Bans Open Carry of Firearms Without a Permit Hawaiian Shirt - For Sale ::

According to The Guardian, the Hawaii’i Supreme Court, citing the state’s “Spirit of Aloha”, has ruled that a person can be prosecuted for carrying a gun in public without a permit. This decision comes in an apparent rebuke to the US Supreme Court’s efforts to expand gun rights.

In State of Hawaii v Christopher Wilson, state supreme court of Hawaii reviewed a 2017 case against Christopher Wilson, who had an unregistered, loaded pistol in his front waistband when police were called after a Maui landowner reported seeing a group of men on his property at night. The court denied the man’s request to dismiss weapons possession charges on grounds that they violated a right to bear arms enshrined in the US constitution in 1791.

“The spirit of aloha clashes with a federally-mandated lifestyle that lets citizens walk around with deadly weapons during day-to-day activities . . . The history of the Hawaiian Islands does not include a society where armed people move about the community to possibly combat the deadly aims of others.” ~Justice Todd Eddins, Hawaii Supreme Court


Under 1986’s Hawaiian Spirit Law, the state mandates that state officials and judges treat the public with “aloha spirit.” In short, this ethos is described as the coordination of the heart and mind to foster connectivity and peace that calls for contemplation and presence of five life-force traits: “akahai” (kindness, expressed with tenderness); “lōkahi” (unity, expressed with harmony); “oluʻolu” (agreeableness, expressed with pleasantness); “haʻahaʻa” (humility, expressed with modesty); and “ahonui’” (patience, expressed with perseverance).

The Wilson case has been winding its way through the court system, with the plaintiff claiming that he had legally purchased the weapon in Florida in 2013. But Wilson had not registered the gun in Hawaii, which has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, and had not obtained or applied for a permit. The case made its way to the state’s supreme court after the US supreme court further relaxed restrictions on gun ownership via the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen case in 2022.

The ruling does not throw out the concept of the right to bear firearms.  Rather it establishes that states may retain the authority to require people to obtain a permit for their firearm before they may carry it in public.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Firearm Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.