Honolulu, HI – A state known for some of the strictest gun laws in the country is now in trouble for issuing guns and ammunition to law enforcement officers in violation of its own policy.
The Hawaii Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been issuing 9 mm handguns and 124-grain ammunition to sheriff's deputies and correctional officers across the state, Hawaii News Now reported.
It wasn’t until two recent officer-involved shootings that the problem came to the attention of authorities.
Maurice Arrisgado Jr. was fatally shot while making an escape attempt from the Oahu Community Correctional Center on March 1, Hawaii News Now reported.
Delmar Espejo put a sheriff’s deputy in a headlock at the State Capitol building and was fatally shot during the altercation that ensued on Feb. 18.
“They don’t follow the policies, they don’t follow the rules and people get hurt and killed,” complained attorney Eric Seitz who represents the Arrisgado family in a lawsuit against the state.
The 2010 DPS policy mandates that the state issue Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolvers instead of the more commonly used 9 mm semi-automatic handguns, Hawaii News Now reported.
Receipts showed that Hawaii has been purchasing the wrong guns and ammunition for its law enforcement officers for years.
Ballistic tests by the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed that 124-grain ammunition expands faster and has a higher muzzle velocity that ultimately causes more damage in a target than the 147-grain bullets that state policy requires, Hawaii News Now reported.
The state also purchased $80,000 in Sig Sauer rifles that had to be put away in lockers because they also violated the outdated DPS gun policies.
The training armory also houses dozens of pepper-ball guns and less-lethal Remington shotguns that are for training purposes only because Hawaii’s DPS gun policies have not been updated to reflect current law enforcement tactics and equipment, Hawaii News Now reported.
Hawaii’s Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Renee Sonobe-Hong told Hawaii News Now that the less-lethal weapons are for training purposes only.
The sheriff’s deputies’ union clapped back at that assertion because they said all requests for utilizing the pepper-ball guns and less-lethal Remingtons have been denied.
DPS did not response to questions from Hawaii News Now about why they have issued weapons that violate policy and whether there are plans to update the gun policies in the near future.