County gun registrations spike in ’12

The total number of registered firearms in Maui County jumped nearly 50 percent to a record 6,791 firearms in 2012, according to a state attorney general’s report.

The number of firearm applications processed in 2012 for the county also reached record highs, jumping 41 percent compared to 2011, according to the report “Firearm Registrations in Hawaii, 2012” released Thursday. A total of 2,777 firearms applications were processed in 2012, compared to the previous record 1,965 in 2011.

The rate of increase in applications was the highest in a decade for Maui County, growing from 870 applications processed in 2002.

The number of registered firearms in the county has increased significantly in the past decade, according to the report. There has been a 358 percent increase in registered weapons since 2002, when there were only 1,482 registered firearms.

Of the 2,777 applications processed in 2012 in the county, 2,640 were approved with permits issued – a denial rate of 1.7 percent.

The report indicated that Maui County processed more applications (18 percent) and denied more applications (182 percent) proportionally when comparing the county’s population to other counties in 2012.

The attorney general compiled the report based on monthly firearms data filed by county police departments.

The Maui County trends are reflected statewide with a record high total of 21,864 personal/private firearms permit applications processed in 2012, 70 percent higher than the previous record high of 15,375 applications processed in 2011.

Of the applications processed last year, 94.1 percent were approved and resulted in a permit being issued, the report said. Most of the denials, 83.7 percent, were for long-arm weapons, compared to only 16.3 percent for handguns.

More than half, or 56 percent, of the denials last year were due to the applicant’s prior criminal convictions, and 11 percent were due to pending charges.

There were 20,572 permits issued statewide in 2012, leading to record high total of registered firearms of 50,394 – a 73 percent increase from 2011’s record high of 36,804 registered firearms, the report said.

Nearly half of the firearms registered in 2012 were imported from out of state, with the remainder being transfers of previously registered firearms in the state.

The number of registered imported firearms in Maui County in 2012 was 3,124, up 48 percent from the 2,108 registered guns in 2011, the report showed. To provide perspective for the growth of imported guns, in 2002 there were only 635 imported registered firearms.

Nearly 54 percent of the total permits issued were for rifles and shotguns in 2012, compared with 46 percent for handgun permits, the report said. Overall, long arms accounted for 61 percent of all registered firearms; handguns accounted for 38.7 percent of the registered firearms.

Although the numbers of applications and registered firearms have increased significantly in recent years, the report noted that “the trend for firearm-related violence crimes has remained fairly stable” and decreased substantially during the 2008-2012 period of large increases in registration activity. The data does not show a correlation between increased weapons ownership and registrations and increases in firearm-related violent crimes, the report said.

* Lee Imada can be reached at