Gun numbers hard to fathom

It is hard to understand why there were record numbers of firearms registered in Hawaii and in Maui County last year.

According to the attorney general’s office, there were 7,567 guns registered in Maui County in 2013 and 60,757 statewide. There were 21,544 permits issued in the state to purchase those weapons, 2,631 in Maui County.

The state and county numbers were up some 20 percent from 2012. By our calculations, that means there were some 105,000 firearms registered in the state in just the last two years.

Yet, the number of firearms-related violent crimes has tracked downward since 2007. The number of guns in the state has been rising steadily, violent crimes using firearms have gone down.

It begs the question: Does an armed populace deter criminals from using guns? We’ve never thought so but we’re not sure how else to interpret this raw data.

Nonetheless, the sheer number of guns bothers us. Hundreds of thousands of weapons in a state the size of Hawaii would certainly signal they are not all being used for hunting or recreation.

Does a “stand your ground” mentality pervade even this gentle state? An Associated Press story offers a different take, quoting a gun control advocate:

“Hawaii is a great example of how strong, common-sense gun laws can work to make people safer,” said Jonathan Lowy of Washington, D.C.,-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Hawaii is sort of a good test case that shows if the United States had strong federal gun laws, and you couldn’t circumvent them by going to weak gun-law states, you’d have a lot less gun violence.”

Hmm . . . maybe. But it seems to us that an awful lot of people feel like they need to arm themselves these days.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.