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Hawaii’s Favorite Gun - Who Owns It and Why
Hawaii Reporter ^ | Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Robert F. Kay

Posted on 03/14/2013 2:16:37 PM PDT by Jyotishi

In the past several months the AR-15 rifle has gone from the most popular firearm in the country to the most infamous. Among many people, it is now the most sought after.

Defend Hawaii Logo (courtesy of Defend Hawaii)

As has been extensively reported, following the presidential election and Sandy Hook, national (including Hawaii) sales of “black guns” have gone ballistic. A December 23 Star Advertiser story reported that OGC Tactical, a Kalihi gun store that specializes in black guns, had a ten-fold increase in sales in the week following President Barack Obama’s gun control task force announcement.

Not surprisingly, the sales spike precipitated a block long line of gun owners snaking along Beretania Street, waiting patiently to register their newly purchased arms with the Honolulu Police Department.

How many Ar 15s or in gun industry parlance, “Modern Sport Rifles” are there are in Hawaii?

Numbers from the NRA report that, from 1986 to 2007, at least 1,626,525 AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles were produced in this country and recent press accounts have put the current number closer to 5 million. Suffice it to say, there are thousands of AR 15s in Hawaii and more are on the way.

Al Mongeon, owner of “Ready on the Right”, an “FFL” or Federal Firearms Licensee has seen a marked increase in the sales of AR 15 style rifles over the last two years among his clients (who purchase them from Mainland sellers). Mongeon said “about 80 percent” of the guns that come through his business are AR 15 variants. Prior to that, he said, the numbers of  AR 15 rifles represented about 30- to-35 percent of his business.

Mongeon’s deal flow is a reasonable AR 15 popularity barometer  Under Federal law, firearms from the Mainland must be shipped through a Hawaii FFL, an interlocutor, such as Mongeon.

What accounts for the increased volume in AR 15s?  Mongeon was vague but surmised that his clients may have been concerned that at some future date they may not be able to buy these types of guns. I searched the Internet but couldn’t account for the bounce in sales.

However, you don’t need Ward Research to gauge the popularity of these rifles among active shooters. A short visit the municipally operated Koko Head Shooting Complex on any weekend will provide you with all the empirical evidence you need. My own very unscientific poll over the past several months found that approximately 40 percent of the riflemen (and woman) at the benches were shooting AR 15s or other military-style firearms.

Site picture from M16 rifle (Courtesy of US Army)

So who exactly are these people?

A national survey by the NSSF, the gun industry trade group came up with a survey that may help answer this question. Among the major findings:

The typical MSR owner is 35-plus years old, married and has some college education.

Nearly half (44 percent) of MSR owners are current or former military or law enforcement members.

39 percent of all MSR owners purchased their most recent MSR at an independent retail store, with the average purchase price being $1,083.

Do the NSSF findings correlate with what we might expect to find in Hawaii? Taking the gun industry’s “findings” at face value, I’d say yes—at least from anecdotal evidence.

No doubt there are a few SEAL Team 6 wannabes or survivalists worried about the coming apocalypse. However, there are always people on the fringe. In conducting my own (again unscientific) survey the folks spoke to were gainfully employed, married and over 35.

Take Brandon Leong, a construction company estimator, a 40-something hunter and long time AR 15 enthusiast. The Windward resident said his friends who shoot ARs include ranchers, firefighters, State of Hawaii employees, architects and engineers.

"Hawaii Modified" AR 15 rifles (courtesy of Brandon Leong)

My circle of friends who own AR 15s (or similar military-style) EBRs (Evil Black Rifles) include a an Ivy league educated attorney, an IT professional employed at UH, a self-employed photographer, and a former police officer.

The NSSF poll found that 44 percent of MSR owners are current or former military or law enforcement members and that rings true in Hawaii. Just engaging people at the range, I found a large number of Hawaii AR enthusiasts to be former (or active duty) service members who learned how to shoot the military version of the AR 15 (the M16A2/M4). It’s only natural they would want to own the civilian variant of the rifle that they were already familiar with.

Concomitant with the average age and college-education that the NSSF survey attributes to AR owners, is the high cost of the gun. These aren’t cheap Saturday night specials. Prior to the Sandy Hook madness, lower-end, entry level AR 15s averaged between $900 and $1,000. Now they fetch prices 20 to 50 percent higher—if you can find them new at all.

Likewise prices have skyrocketed for used AR 15s in (according to the classified section of 2ahawaii.com, a local website) command prices of anywhere from $,1400 on up. (New ones are tough to find—they have sold out in the local shops).

The upshot: As the NSSF survey implies, you need discretionary income to afford an AR.

What accounts for their popularity in the Aloha State?

The gun is fun and comfortable to shoot. Recoil is minimal. You can fire the .223/5.56 mm round all day long and unlike larger bore hunting rifles, your shoulder will be none the worse for wear. They are also very accurate. With a little practice, even a rank beginner can ring the at 400 yard gong at Kokohead.

M16 Rifles in service in Vietnam (Photo courtesy US Army)

They are easy to assemble, which makes them popular with hobbyists. It’s also easy to swap calibers. In the same manner that a sparkplug will screw into any automobile engine, any AR 15 lower receiver (which houses the trigger and magazine) will fit with an upper receiver (which houses the barrel).

The lower and upper are fastened with two pins, which can be removed in a matter of seconds. One trigger system can thus be coupled with half a dozen barrels which is quite practical. You can use a .22 caliber upper to shoot at Kokohead and in seconds swap out a larger caliber barrel to go pig hunting.

What else do local people (as well as mainland enthusiasts) like about the AR platform?

The guns are also infinitely customizable. Hawaii people love to customize their cars, their computers, their iphones, and evidently, their rifles.  (Isn’t that the American way?)

Unlike a traditional hunting rifle, where you’ll need to pay a gunsmith $100 an hour to put on a new scope or a new barrel, it’s relatively simple to build an AR 15 from the ground up in a matter of hours or less. What’s more you can personalize it with aftermarket sights, stocks, triggers, flashlights, fore grips, buttstocks, etc.

Advertisement from rife manufacturer CMMG, a brand popular with Hawaii residents (Photo courtesy of CMMG)

Brandon Leong, the Windward construction estimator has built his own AR 15 and likens it to building “a model airplane, in a matter of hours.”  Leong is typical of many AR owners. He likes to tinker with his guns. It’s as American as apple pie.

It’s also clearly an addicting hobby, the kind of past time that many Hawaii people find pleasurable. Perhaps even your next door neighbor.

Short URL: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/?p=306969

Author: Robert Kay

Rob Kay is a Honolulu-based freelance writer and publicist. He is the author of two Lonely Planet guide books and www.fijiguide.com, a popular South Pacific travel site. On the weekends tends his garden and enjoys punching paper at the Kokohead range.

Robert Kay has written 1 articles for us.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Hawaii
KEYWORDS: ar15; banglist; firearm; gun; guncontrol; nra; obama; secondamendment
But Hawaii has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.
1 posted on 03/14/2013 2:16:37 PM PDT by Jyotishi
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To: Jyotishi
He thinks that it is an AR-15


2 posted on 03/14/2013 2:20:24 PM PDT by Slyfox (The Key to Marxism is Medicine ~ Vladimir Lenin)
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To: Jyotishi
Hawaii hasn't got hideously bad gun laws, yet. I'm comparing Hawaii to New York, New Jersey, and California though.

They're mostly concerned with handguns over there.

3 posted on 03/14/2013 2:29:12 PM PDT by The KG9 Kid (Demand Common Sense Nut Control.)
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To: Slyfox

4 posted on 03/14/2013 2:41:45 PM PDT by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
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To: The KG9 Kid

5 posted on 03/14/2013 2:43:25 PM PDT by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
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To: The KG9 Kid
I remember a particularly stupid episode of the original Hawaii Five-0 that was pushing for gun control clear back in the early seventies.

It had a bunch of local hoods killing people and each other with a shipment of .25 cal revolvers from Taiwan called "The Stinger". If memory serves me, on the show they were for $22.

6 posted on 03/14/2013 2:45:14 PM PDT by Slump Tester (What if I'm pregnant Teddy? Errr-ahh -Calm down Mary Jo, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it)
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To: Jyotishi
But Hawaii has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

You might be surprised. It is the registration crap that is onerous. As far as firearms, not much is prohibited other than high capacity handgun magazines.

Most of the scary black rifles you will see would be quite illegal in several mainland states.

7 posted on 03/14/2013 2:49:12 PM PDT by doorgunner69
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To: Slump Tester

As I recall Jack Lord was an anti-gunner.


8 posted on 03/14/2013 2:54:27 PM PDT by Red Steel
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To: Jyotishi

Hawaii’s a liberal state, no doubt, with “Yellowfangs” Abercrombie as governor. But hasn’t it been amazing, the grassroots pro-2A counterattack in liberal states like NY, MA, MI, CA, & NJ? The crowd that is always scolding that “you don’t NEEEEEEEEEEED an assault weapon!” is meeting its match.

Notice that the gungrabbers’ current mantra is that the gun-owning percentage of the population is shrinking? That could be a little projection, there.

The huge pro-2A rallies at state houses across the country have NOT been met by liberal counterprotesters. Even the commie purpleshirts of SEIU have backed down from direct confrontation. This is significant.


9 posted on 03/14/2013 2:58:31 PM PDT by elcid1970 ("The Second Amendment is more important than Islam.")
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To: elcid1970
the gun-owning percentage of the population is shrinking?

Yes that's why all those gun factories are on maximum overtime!

10 posted on 03/14/2013 2:59:44 PM PDT by nascarnation (Baraq's economic policy: trickle up poverty)
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To: Red Badger

11 posted on 03/14/2013 3:01:07 PM PDT by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: elcid1970

Total projection. The NYT just did a major “phone survey” (LOL) and found that gun ownership was down from about 53% to 39% over the last 40 years.

Of course, the way I see it, their “phone survey” was totally biased, paid for by a Soros group. Plus, imagine a “phone survey” of religious affiliation in Germany in 1936. What a non-shock if fewer Jewish households admitted their religion in 36 compared to 06! Gee, ya think folks will tell anonymous “phone surveyors” in 2013 if they own guns or not? Really?

The comments on the NYT survey article were very telling. 2/3 were “screw you, libtard gun grabbers!” But 1/3 followed this reasoning. “Sure, way more guns are being sold today.” (They can’t deny the facts, based on FBI background checks etc.) “But only a few dangerous and unstable right wing lunatics are buying massive arsenals. Ergo, we need to go and take the arsenals away from those crazy right wingers!”


12 posted on 03/14/2013 3:08:25 PM PDT by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee

That’s right! The vast number of scary black rifles are being accumulated by just a handful of white middle aged fat guys. The illogic must find some justification.

Years ago a UNESCO report announced that somewhere in the world some woman was giving birth every seven seconds.

Bill Buckley had the perfect solution: “Find that woman, and STOP her!”

The gungrabbers’ thought processes are similar, IMO.


13 posted on 03/14/2013 3:22:11 PM PDT by elcid1970 ("The Second Amendment is more important than Islam.")
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To: elcid1970
Feel the love! This is how they see us.


14 posted on 03/14/2013 3:49:04 PM PDT by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee

That cartoon will only galvanize the artist’s `enemies’ into greater activism.

Yes, I’m white, middle aged but not quite that fat. Which means I well remember that the gungrabbers haven’t been on the warpath like this since 1968.

But there’s such a huge difference now. No liberal monopoly of the media and the huge growth of social media insures that the `other side’ (us) will be heard.

Liberals should recall that their iconic hero Mao Tse-tung once declared, “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend”. The resulting chaos nearly tore Red China apart.

Well, this genie won’t be put back into the bottle. “If this be war, then make the most of it!”


15 posted on 03/14/2013 4:18:04 PM PDT by elcid1970 ("The Second Amendment is more important than Islam.")
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To: Red Badger

They should post a picture of Spock in the Glock area.


16 posted on 03/14/2013 4:28:52 PM PDT by Sawdring
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To: Sawdring

17 posted on 03/14/2013 4:37:30 PM PDT by Stonewall Jackson (Molon Labe!)
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To: Slump Tester

Back in the 1970s all shows on TV had an anti-handgun theme.

Then the studios discovered the Miller Decision of the SCOTUS and went wild! By script writer thinking this proved that military rifles were constitutional and blessed, but “evil” handguns were not protected.
Quite a few shows parroted this theme over and over. Even ALL IN THE FAMILY had an anti-gun segment in which the Miller decision was mentioned to “prove” handguns were bad.

Now, all of a sudden, Miller is no longer mentioned.


18 posted on 03/14/2013 6:30:09 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (CLICK my name. See the murals before they are painted over! POTEET THEATER in OKC!)
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To: Red Steel

***As I recall Jack Lord was an anti-gunner.***

A RABID anti-gunner. I remember him working an anti-handgun theme into several shows.

He was not the only one.

Richard Boone (Heck Ramsey) did the same.

So did Dennis Weaver (McCloud)

Then there was Jack Klugman (Quincy M.D.) with his anti-handgun rant “WE have to stop IT before IT kills again!”

And THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO in which a man buys a .25 handgun for his wife, it is stolen from her, and we go on an hour long shooting spree of innocents and kids being killed before the gun is found and melted down into a sewer cover.


19 posted on 03/14/2013 6:37:26 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (CLICK my name. See the murals before they are painted over! POTEET THEATER in OKC!)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
A RABID anti-gunner. I remember him working an anti-handgun theme into several shows.

I remember the howls of derision and the ridicule after Lord was busted for an illegal concealed handgun.

Not that his liberal hypocrisy was a surprise to anyone.

20 posted on 03/14/2013 8:28:58 PM PDT by doorgunner69
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