Backing off the pawn reporting law

Pawnbrokers under surveillance

Pawnbrokers under surveillance

This is something we haven’t noticed before. Across the country, there has been a wave of local ordinances requiring collection of data on pawn customers, with electronic reporting to local police.

But in Columbia County, Georgia, the sheriff is backing off such a law that went into effect in April.

Kamaaina Loan already collects information (as required by state law) and reports electronically (not required but good business). In fact, we take pride in being the first pawn shop anywhere to inaugurate daily electronic reporting.

However, we have opposed efforts in Honolulu to require using a particular out-of-state vendor to process the reports.

But it gets complicated. According to the Augusta Chronicle report, the objection was that the ordinance was too broad, that it extended to all kinds of second-hand dealers, not just pawnshops.

Not long after it was implemented, however, some businesses began questioning some of the new law’s provisions and expressed concerns about its impact on business. Local lawyer, Andy Tisdale said the ordinance could be interpreted to apply to almost any business that buys and sells used goods and equipment, including used cars, calling is a “second-hand dealer law.”

In addition, Tisdale said the ordinance had conflicts with Constitutional law, where it compels business owners to comply with warrantless searches or face arrest.


But we contend that second-hand dealers should be required to report, if the intention of these ordinances really is to deter fencing or assist in recovering stolen goods. It makes no sense to watch pawnshops with an electronic eagle eye while leaving other secondhand dealers free to take in questionable goods in secret. (In Georgia, part of the objection was that the local ordinance potentially applied to used car dealers. That seems unnecessary, since motor vehicles already have adequate regulations to monitor and track ownership.)

So while at first glance, we welcome resistance to these ordinances that compel businesses to deal with vendors they do not get to choose, the actions in Columbia County don’t appear to be the kind of pushback we would hope to see.

(The issue in Georgia about gun registries is outside our scope, since we do not deal in firearms and hardly any Hawaii pawnbrokers do so.)