"Hawaii gun enthusiasts take aim at legislation" (The Maui News, Jan. 31) offered very little information about the bill in question aside from a brief mention of instructor liability, so I did a little digging on my own.
What I found was this bill (HB426) is seeking to repeal a provision of an existing law (HB 679) which assigns "absolute liability" to any firearm owner for injuries or property damage that results from the discharge of a firearm they own. "Absolute liability" means that the gun owner is liable regardless of the circumstances; there is no need to prove carelessness or fault of any kind. Exceptions to this law were provided for state and county law-enforcement personnel and certified firearm safety instructors while they are teaching firearm safety courses. As the law stands, both exempted groups are still subject to tort liability under state law. HB 426 seeks to repeal the exemption from "absolute liability" for the certified instructors.
By state law, any person wishing to acquire a handgun must pass a safety course taught by a certified instructor. These instructors are instrumental in the implementation of state regulations and the exemption is totally reasonable. So why attempt to repeal the exemption for them?
This bill was introduced on behalf of personal injury attorneys in the state by Rep. Scott Saiki, who happens to be a personal injury attorney himself. Was it really about public safety or is there something else going on here?