Saturday, November 20, 1999

Group calls
for tougher gun
control laws

A gathering yesterday at the
Capitol pushes advocates' goals
for next legislative session

By Pat Omandam


MEMBERS of the Hawaii Firearms Control Coalition, along with a national grass-roots campaign against gun violence and others, are seeking stricter state gun laws next legislative session in the wake of the Xerox Hawaii shooting which left seven dead.

Among their goals are laws that would require the re-registration of firearms, would require proof of firearm ownership registration to buy ammunition, and would ensure firearms be locked in a gun safe or gun rack at home.

"We believe Hawaii is ready to take a significant step to control handguns," said former state lawmaker Annelle Amaral of the League of Women Voters. "We believe this is the time to do it."

About 60 people gathered yesterday morning at the state Capitol courtyard to push for passage of these bills.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Judy Mathias, above, holds a picture of her grandson, Tupu
Bartee, who was killed in a shooting accident when he
was 12 years old and visiting Arizona.

Pegi Scully of The Bell Campaign, whose son was killed in 1993 due to gun violence, said her children and grandchildren suffer every day because of the tragedy.

The Bell Campaign is a new national grass-roots campaign led by victims of gun violence.

Its goals are to prevent death and injury, and to support victims of gun trauma. Members yesterday rang a small bell seven times for the number of victims in the Xerox shooting.

Rabbi Avi Magid of Temple Emanu-El said the loss of a single life is justification for stricter gun laws, and urged lawmakers to act swiftly.

Gov. Ben Cayetano said this week he is open to meaningful changes in Hawaii's gun laws, including a law that would prevent people who possess guns illegally from buying ammunition in the legal market.

"That's something that I think I could support," he said.

Cayetano -- a firearms owner who keeps his handguns locked in a safe -- believes Hawaii has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

He became a gun owner while serving as a reserve state deputy sheriff several years ago.

Cayetano thinks continuous education and training is good for firearms owners, but those measures would not prevent situations such as the Xerox shootings.

What might be more productive is for government and the private sector to work together and create programs that identify potential violence problems in the workplace, while raising the level of firearms education and awareness, he said.

"I think after what happened at Xerox, everyone is reassessing what they have in place now, in terms of finding out or preventing these problems by providing counseling to people who may be suffering from stress of some kind," he said.

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