Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action
On Tuesday, United States District Judge Jill A. Otake implemented a permanent injunction on the law prohibiting Hawaiian citizens from carrying billy clubs as a condition of a settlement in Yukutake v. Shikada. The settlement allows law-abiding Hawaiians to own and carry “cudgels, truncheons, police batons, collapsible batons, billy clubs, or nightsticks” for their protection. It also orders the state to pay $50,000 to cover the plaintiffs’ legal fees.
“[T]he Attorney General shall direct her agents and all other persons under her authority to comply with the terms of this Injunction and will direct all persons under the legal authority of the Attorney General not to enforce the “billy” provision of HRS § 134-51(a) as set forth in the Injunction,” Judge Otake wrote in his order.
The settlement offers citizens of the state, which has some of the country’s strictest weapons regulations, a new opportunity to carry at least some kinds of concealed weapons. It also represents a new high water mark for Second Amendment advocates looking to expand the amendment’s protections to arms other than guns. It may also crack the door for changes in other states where baton and billy club bans are already being challenged. At least ten other states still prohibit the carrying batons, including California, New York, and Illinois.
Alan Beck, the plaintiff’s attorney, argued the settlement is a win for all Hawaiians.
“I am very glad the people of Hawaii will have access to batons after today,” he said in a statement. “They are a practical means of self-defense.”
Beck has also won a series of Second Amendment cases related to weapons that aren’t firearms. Last year, the country’s final ban on stun guns was struck down in a lawsuit filed by Beck. It was the culmination of a successful decade-long fight to eliminate such prohibitions, a campaign that saw the most law changes of any as a result of the Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 ruling in Heller v. DC.
Now, in the wake of another landmark Supreme Court Second Amendment ruling last year, Beck has turned his attention toward baton bans. In addition to the Hawaii suit, he has filed suit against California’s near-total ban on the possession of billy clubs.
Hawaii has some of the most expansive gun laws in the country, making it more difficult to legally buy and carry a gun than most other states. It has issued few concealed carry permits since being forced to abandon its subjective permitting law by last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling. Lawmakers are also looking to vastly expand restrictions on where those with permits can carry their firearms in the near future. Some localities have already implemented new “gun-free zones.”
Under the settlement, Hawaiians now have the option of carrying billy clubs for self-defense without having to obtain a permit. The comparative ease of getting batons and carrying them legally as opposed to firearms may make the weapons more popular in the state.
Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez (D.) did not respond to a request for comment.