HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1541

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that gun violence is a significant public health and public safety problem. Nationwide, there are thirty thousand deaths related to gun violence annually, and the economic cost of gun violence was estimated at $229,000,000,000 in 2012.

The legislature further finds that the tragic spike in well-publicized mass shootings of recent years accounts for less than one per cent of all gun violence. Across the nation, rates of fatal gun violence have remained essentially unchanged for more than a decade, as declines in homicide have been offset by increases in suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of fatal injury in Hawaii, with one person dying by suicide every two days. Twenty per cent of these deaths involve a gun.

The legislature further finds that too little is known about gun violence and its prevention. This is due to a dire lack of research. In 1996, Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, with a provision which prevents the use of federal money for gun violence research and prevention.

As a result of this effective ban on gun violence research, funding for gun violence prevention research has declined dramatically. According to study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, between 2004 and 2015 research related to gun violence was substantially underfunded and understudied compared with other leading causes of death. The study said that the $22,000,000 spent on gun violence research represented only a paltry 1.6 per cent of the $1,400,000,000 in funding that would be predicted based on the number of deaths caused by guns.

Since the federal government has halted research relating to gun violence, both the federal and state governments lack the capacity to analyze data to track black market guns used in crimes and develop evidence-based policies which can save lives.

The purpose of this Act is to prevent gun violence and save lives by establishing the Hawaii gun violence prevention center, a research division of the department of the attorney general, with a mission to analyze and develop strategies to prevent gun violence in Hawaii.

SECTION 2. Chapter 134, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding two new sections to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"134-A Hawaii gun violence prevention center. (a) There is established within the department of the attorney general the Hawaii gun violence prevention center. The center shall be directed and managed by an administrator appointed by the attorney general subject to chapter 76.

(b) The center shall conduct research and analysis of gun-related violence and its prevention, assist law enforcement, and make recommendations for prevention of gun-related violence. The interdisciplinary work of the center shall address the following:

(1) The nature of gun violence, including individual and societal determinants of risk for involvement in gun violence, whether as a victim or a perpetrator;

(2) The individual, community, and societal consequences of gun violence; and

(3) Prevention and treatment of gun violence at the individual, community, and societal levels.

(c) The center shall conduct basic, translational, and transformative research with a mission to generate scientific evidence on which sound gun violence prevention policies and programs can be based. Its research shall include but not be limited to the effectiveness of existing laws and policies intended to reduce gun violence, including the criminal misuse of guns, and efforts to promote the responsible ownership and use of guns.

(d) The center may coordinate with other institutions working on this issue.

(e) The center shall work on a continuing basis with the State and counties to identify, implement, and evaluate innovative gun violence prevention policies and programs.

(f) To help ensure a long-term and successful effort to understand and prevent gun violence, the center may recruit and provide specialized training opportunities for staff members.

(g) As a supplement to its own research, the center may administer a grant program for research on gun violence. All research funds shall be awarded on a basis of scientific merit as determined by an open, competitive peer review process that assures objectivity, consistency, and high quality. All qualified investigators, regardless of institutional affiliation, shall have equal access and opportunity to compete for the funds.

(h) The peer review process for the selection of grants awarded by the center shall be modeled on the process used by the National Institutes of Health in its grantmaking process.

(i) The Hawaii gun violence prevention center shall submit to the governor and the legislature an annual report on its research and findings, program accomplishments, and future direction of the program. This report shall include a financial report on the center's expenditures, grants made, and pending grants.

(j) State agencies and entities including but not limited to the University of Hawaii, department of health, department of public safety, department of defense, and department of human services, shall cooperate with the department of the attorney general and the Hawaii gun violence prevention center and shall provide to the center, upon proper request, the data necessary for the center to conduct its research.

(k) The center and all recipients of grants shall provide copies of their research publications to the governor, the legislature, and agencies supplying data used in the conduct of that research as soon as is practicable following publication.

134-B Hawaii gun violence prevention center special fund. (a) There is established in the state treasury a special fund to be designated as the Hawaii gun violence prevention center special fund to carry out the purposes of the center. The following moneys shall be deposited into the Hawaii gun violence prevention center special fund:

(1) Appropriations made by the legislature for deposit into the special fund;

(2) Donations and contributions made by private individuals or organizations; and

(3) Grants provided by governmental agencies or any other source, except for funds that may not be used for the purposes of the special fund pursuant to federal law.

(b) The Hawaii gun violence prevention center special fund may be used by the department for one or more of the following purposes:

(1) Planning, designing, developing, implementing, and reporting on gun violence prevention policies pursuant to this part;

(2) Providing grants to the counties and nongovernmental organizations for gun violence prevention in projects subject to this part; and

(3) Administrative costs."

SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $         or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019-2020 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 to be deposited into the Hawaii gun violence prevention center special fund to carry out the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 4. There is appropriated out of the gun violence prevention center special fund the sum of $         or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019-2020 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the hiring of three or more full-time permanent employees to carry out the provisions of this Act.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the Hawaii gun violence prevention center for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 5. In codifying the new sections added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.

SECTION 6. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2019.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Gun Violence Prevention; Research; Appropriation; Special Fund

 

Description:

Establishes the Hawaii Gun Violence Prevention Center in the AG's office to research strategies to prevent gun violence. Creates a special fund to support the Center. Appropriates funds.

 

 

 

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