Blue Hawaii: Some states make CCW under LEOSA tough for cops

My trip to Hawaii illustrates how some states do not give LEOSA-armed officers such a warm welcome


Recently, I checked off an item on my bucket list — visit all 50 states. My 50th state was the 50th state, Hawaii. Staying true to my lifestyle since the enactment of LEOSA (HR218), I took a concealed carry pistol along.

I live in Illinois, a decidedly gun-unfriendly locale, but we warmly welcome any off-duty or retired officer who wants to pack a pistol in the Land of Lincoln.

My trip to Hawaii illustrates how some states do not give LEOSA-armed officers such a warm welcome.

I was told that sometimes they get busy and the process can take two to three hours, but my elapsed time away from my vacation was about an hour. (PoliceOne Image)
I was told that sometimes they get busy and the process can take two to three hours, but my elapsed time away from my vacation was about an hour. (PoliceOne Image)

A Two- to Three-Hour Process
Hawaii’s statutes require all firearms to be registered with the appropriate police department during your visit- Honolulu PD in my case. I called the PD to ask about the process and it sounded cumbersome and potentially time-consuming. I nearly decided to forgo the hassle and leave my pistol at home, but ultimately decided it was worth writing about the experience.

According to the statute, you must register no matter how long you stay — with a five-day grace period in which to register. On the Monday morning after arrival, I drove downtown to the Honolulu PD HQ with my pistol and the forms I had already downloaded and filled. Though the primary form asked for my home address, the officer behind the bulletproof glass handed me a new form — the department wanted my Hawaii address (motel name, address, and room number).

After filling that out, I passed the pistol through for their inspection, paid $16 for the live scan fingerprint process, waited until both I and the pistol cleared NCIC and left with the HPD-132 form, which made me legal. I was told that sometimes they get busy and the process can take two to three hours, but my elapsed time away from my vacation was about an hour.

Not Just Hawaii
There are other LEOSA-unfriendly places, mostly in terms of magazine or ammunition restrictions. Several jurisdictions ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, such as New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and New York.

In fact, New York has a seven-round limit, though that requirement is somewhat up in the air for LEOs. The LEOSA statute does not exempt you from the magazine limitations, so if you pack a hi-cap pistol, you’ll need to pick up a couple of 10-rounders.

New Jersey bans the carry of hollow point bullets, with an exemption for law enforcement. A couple years ago, I was asked to speak at a conference in New Jersey and had been warned by an attorney friend that some New Jersey agencies still might arrest you if they catch you with hollow point loads. 

So, wanting to be legal, I called the NJ State Police for clarification. I was referred to the Attorney General’s office. The AG’s office referred me back to the state police — the New Jersey two-step. 

To get to the bottom of the matter, I called a NJ Trooper I know, who threatened me with great bodily harm if I ever reveal his name, and was told that, while the LEOSA statute does specifically allow you to carry hollow point ammunition, New Jersey interprets that to mean only for active law enforcement officers. Retirees have no law enforcement authority, so getting caught with  hollow points might land you in jail. 

I asked if the “plugged” hollow points of Hornaday’s Critical Defense/Duty loads would pass muster. My friend said if I met the wrong cop, I could still be in hot water, so I bought a box of the Federal Guard Dog loads - which are an expanding full-metal-jacket design - and bit my tongue, thinking, “Yee gads, there is someplace worse than Illinois!”

Let’s Get it Going, New Jersey and Hawaii
I think our brother and sister officers in Hawaii and New Jersey — and any other LEOSA-unfriendly state — should start lobbying their legislators for some professional courtesy for visiting LEOs. It can be done. LEOSA itself was enacted because law enforcement groups lobbied Congress long enough and loud enough to get us the nationwide carry right. We should be able to exercise that nationwide carry right without registering our sidearm and with magazines of any size stuffed with the load of our choice. 

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