The recent decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court, asserting that individuals can be prosecuted for carrying guns in public without a permit, incorporates an unconventional reference to the crime-drama TV series “The Wire” and embraces the “spirit of Aloha” in what seems to be a critique of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that expanded gun rights across the nation.
In a unanimous ruling issued on Wednesday, the Hawaii Supreme Court challenged the notion that cultural norms from the country’s founding era should dictate contemporary life.
Quoting a line from season four, episode three of HBO’s “The Wire” – “The thing about the old days, they the old days” – the 53-page opinion argues against pledging allegiance to outdated cultural, legal, and constitutional perspectives.
Authored by Justice Todd Eddins, the opinion contends, “As the world turns, it makes no sense for contemporary society to pledge allegiance to the founding era’s culture, realities, laws, and understanding of the Constitution,” before referencing the popular TV series.
The court ruling is a response to a 2017 case involving Christopher Wilson, who was found with a loaded pistol in his front waistband when police were called to a Maui property where a landowner reported seeing a group of men at night.
The handgun was unregistered in Hawaii, and Wilson had not acquired a permit for ownership. Despite legally purchasing the gun in Florida in 2013, Wilson faced charges of firearm possession. Initially, Wilson’s motion to dismiss the charges based on his Second Amendment right to bear arms was denied.
However, following the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision, known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which had significant implications for gun laws nationwide, Wilson filed a second motion to dismiss. This motion was granted, prompting the state to appeal.
The Hawaii Supreme Court’s ruling suggests that the “spirit of Aloha” conflicts with a federally mandated lifestyle, allowing citizens to carry deadly weapons in day-to-day activities.
Hawaii, known for having stringent gun laws and low rates of gun violence, faces a legal debate over the balance between historical interpretations of the Second Amendment and contemporary societal values.
Ben Lowenthal, representing Wilson from the Hawaii public defender’s office, expressed that they are assessing their options, including potential review by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case adds a unique dimension to the ongoing discourse surrounding gun rights and the evolving interpretation of constitutional principles.