Legislature(1997 - 1998)

1997-07-10 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

1997-07-10                     Senate Journal                      Page 2101
SB 141                                                                       
Message dated and received June 20, stating:                                   
Dear President Miller:                                                         
Under the authority of art. II, sec. 15 of the Alaska Constitution, I          
have vetoed the following bill:                                                
HOUSE CS FOR CS FOR SENATE BILL NO.                                           
141(FIN) am H                                                                  
An Act relating to permits to carry concealed                                 
handguns; and relating to the possession of                                    
This bill makes changes in Alaskas concealed handgun permit                    
program.  The current law strikes a thoughtful and carefully crafted           
balance between an individuals right to protection and the safety of           
all Alaskans.  Many of the changes to existing law in this bill made           
at the end of the legislative session were neither carefully considered        
nor intended.                                                                  
The bill would limit the effectiveness of Alaska police departments            
and the Alaska State Troopers because a hastily drafted amendment              
prohibits officers from carrying a concealed weapon unless they are            
certified as peace officers by the Alaska Police Standards Council or          
they have obtained a permit as a private citizen.  This amendment              
presents several thorny problems.  First, the Council does not  certify        

1997-07-10                     Senate Journal                      Page 2102
SB 141                                                                       
peace officers; rather, it certifies police officers.  This means that         
many peace officers, such as court security officers who transport             
prisoners, would not be able to carry a concealed handgun.  Second,            
there is a probationary period for police officers of at least 14              
months before they are certified by the Council, during which period           
the police officer could not carry a concealed handgun.  Third,                
police agencies in small communities often do not require their                
officers to be certified by the Council.  Thus, these officers would           
not be able to carry a concealed handgun.  And finally, people who             
are specially commissioned for undercover police work would not be             
able to carry a concealed handgun.  While the Legislature may not              
have intended this result, this bill effectively removes the ability of        
law enforcement administrators to manage personnel.                            
The bill would allow concealed handguns to be carried into places              
where common sense says they simply should not be allowed:                     
police departments, airports, Alaska Marine Highway vessels,                   
government offices and, particularly problematic, facilities providing         
services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  The              
Legislature attempted to deal with the last category by adding to the          
weapons misconduct statute the prohibition of carrying a concealed             
weapon into a domestic violence or sexual assault shelter that                 
receives funding from the state.  However, it would be legal to carry          
a concealed weapon into federally or locally funded shelters and into          
buildings offering domestic violence programs.  Not only does this             
raise constitutional fairness questions, but enforcement would be very         
difficult because the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable            
doubt that the person who entered the shelter knew or should have              
known it was state funded.                                                     
During the legislative debate, it was claimed that although the bill           
would allow concealed handguns to be carried where current law                 
prohibits them, buildings could be posted with signs prohibiting               
concealed weapons, and persons who violate the posted signs could              
be arrested for criminal trespass.  While this is true for private             
buildings that are not open to the public, it is not true for public           
buildings such as the legislature, police departments, and government          
offices.  Further, quasi-public areas, such as commercial                      
establishments  and  shopping  malls,  are usually treated like public         

1997-07-10                     Senate Journal                      Page 2103
SB 141                                                                       
buildings under the criminal trespass laws.  Under current law                 
criminal trespass in a public place is committed only after the person         
carrying the handgun is personally asked to leave the premises and             
refuses to do so.  This bill clearly does not provide the people who           
work and do business in public places with adequate protection.                
In attempting to make it easier to obtain a concealed handgun                  
permit, I believe the bill sweeps too broadly, and as a result allows          
people who are potentially dangerous to obtain or keep a permit to             
carry a concealed handgun.  People who are indicted and not yet                
convicted for violent felonies may obtain a permit.  People who are            
mentally ill and under medication, although not formally                       
institutionalized, may obtain a permit as may people who have                  
recently undergone voluntary treatment for alcohol or drug abuse.              
People who have been convicted of assault on certain household                 
members may obtain a permit as well as those violating certain                 
restraining orders.  It is unwise to allow potentially dangerous people        
to carry concealed handguns.                                                   
The bill does cure two of the problems I expressed last year when              
I vetoed similar legislation.  This bill does not permit carrying guns         
in bars and would require a carrier consume no alcohol in restaurants          
that serve alcohol.  The bill also creates a safer reciprocity provision       
that would allow out-of-state residents to carry concealed handguns            
in Alaska, as long as their home state requirements are as strict as           
Alaskas.  Unfortunately, these fixes are clearly outweighed by the             
serious problems the bill creates.                                             
Many organizations and individuals have voiced strong opposition to            
this legislation, including the Alaska Chiefs of Police, the Alaska            
Peace Officers Association, the Council on Domestic Violence and               
Sexual Assault and domestic violence shelters all across Alaska.               
Their experience and concerns, in addition to my own, make a veto              
necessary in the interest of public safety.                                    
						Tony Knowles