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US Navy sailor says he was denied gun permit due to ‘feeling depressed and homesick’

A holstered handgun. (Al Behrman/TNS)
April 07, 2022

A Navy sailor who says he was denied a gun permit due to “feeling depressed and homesick” has filed a lawsuit targeting Hawaii’s gun laws.

Michael Santucci, a cryptologic warfare officer from Fort Myers, Fla., claimed in the lawsuit that while he previously saw a therapist and expressed he felt depressed and homesick, he was never diagnosed with a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder, according to Hawaii News Now on Thursday. That information was later used in denying him a gun permit.

Individuals must acquire a permit to own a gun in the State of Hawaii, and applicants must include “information regarding … mental health history.”

“The permit application form shall include the applicant’s name, address, sex, height, weight, date of birth, place of birth, country of citizenship, social security number, alien or admission number, and information regarding the applicant’s mental health history and shall require the fingerprinting and photographing of the applicant by the police department of the county of registration; provided that where fingerprints and photograph are already on file with the department, these may be waived,” the law states, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

“An applicant for a permit shall sign a waiver at the time of application, allowing the chief of police of the county issuing the permit access to any records that have a bearing on the mental health of the applicant,” the law continues. “The permit application form and the waiver form shall be prescribed by the attorney general and shall be uniform throughout the State.”

Shortly after arriving in Hawaii last year, Santucci attempted to register his guns with the Honolulu Police Department. On the forms, he noted that he had received treatment for depression but that his illness was “not serious,” Navy Times reported.

Santucci later received a letter stating that he would need written certification from a doctor verifying that he was no longer impacted by a mental disorder.

Santucci’s lawyers explained that government medical personnel, including those from the Defense Department, are barred from writing those kinds of statements.

Additionally, Attorney Alan Beck asserted that the medical evaluation requirement is unconstitutional.

“We’re challenging the process,” Beck said.

Honolulu city and county representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

“As a practical matter, the City makes the applicant disprove a negative — I am not incompetent — which is expensive and burdensome especially considering that virtually all Hawaii doctors refuse to write the waivers the City requires as proof of mental competency,” Santucci’s lawyers argued.