Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 27(CRA) Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HB 184-MUNICIPAL FIREARM ORDINANCES                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR THOMAS announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL NO. 184, "An Act relating to firearms."                                                                           
8:08:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SUE WRIGHT,  Staff to Representative Mike  Chenault, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  explained that  HB 184  would ensure  that citizens                                                               
would  be  able  to  look  to one  law  with  regard  to  firearm                                                               
regulations.   Currently, 18 communities that  have law differing                                                               
from state  statute regarding the  use and carrying  of firearms.                                                               
This  legislation would  bring  uniformity to  the  state on  the                                                               
matter of firearm regulations.                                                                                                  
8:09:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA questioned  what other  areas of  personal                                                               
choice for  which the law is  uniform throughout the state.   She                                                               
questioned the purpose of local government if there is one law.                                                                 
MS. WRIGHT related her personal  experience in which she lives on                                                               
the "Duck Flats"  in the City of Kenai.   It's legal to discharge                                                               
a firearm on the Duck Flats,  but not legal within other areas of                                                               
the city.   She emphasized  that there isn't  a firm line  or map                                                               
specifying  where it's  legal to  discharge a  firearm and  where                                                               
it's  not.   However, one  of  the aggravating  factors when  one                                                               
defends  himself  or  herself  in  an  assault  can  be  a  local                                                               
ordinance.  This law ensures uniformity, she emphasized.                                                                        
8:12:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX commented that she  has no problem with the                                                               
intent of  HB 184.  However,  she said she isn't  certain that it                                                               
actually accomplishes the intent because  it's left to the courts                                                               
to  determine   what  law  is  inconsistent   with  another  law.                                                               
Representative  LeDoux opined  that a  local law  could never  be                                                               
ruled inconsistent  with a state  law.  Therefore,  she suggested                                                               
that a more appropriate intent  would be that "state law preempts                                                               
all local law  with respect to firearms" and then  specify what a                                                               
municipality may not  enact or enforce.  She  further opined that                                                               
HB 184 is too open to interpretation to accomplish the goal.                                                                    
MS. WRIGHT  mentioned that there  has been a  proposed conceptual                                                               
amendment  from the  National Rifle  Association  (NRA), but  the                                                               
sponsor  chose  not  to  [incorporate]  it at  this  time.    She                                                               
indicated that [the sponsor] elected  to have it corrected in the                                                               
Senate.   She  related her  belief that  the proposed  conceptual                                                               
amendment  would appease  Representative LeDoux's  concern.   She                                                               
offered to  work with  Representative LeDoux  on this  "and allow                                                               
the bill to pass out of committee."                                                                                             
8:14:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN said that he  supports HB 184, which brings                                                               
clarity  with regard  to how  guns  can be  handled in  different                                                               
8:15:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA pointed  out that  this matter  would look                                                               
very different  from different political views.   She highlighted                                                               
that urban centers  tend to be quite different  than the outlying                                                               
areas, which  may have different  needs with regard  to firearms.                                                               
If urban  centers control what  is happening at the  state level,                                                               
rural areas could end up having  laws that are abhorrent to local                                                               
populations.   Therefore,  in a  state  as diverse  and large  as                                                               
Alaska, it's better  to have local government  make decisions [on                                                               
this  matter].   She opined  that "big  brother," as  exemplified                                                               
with the  federal government, is onerous.   "I just think  it's a                                                               
bad idea having big government  dominating any kind of thing that                                                               
I can think of," she said.                                                                                                      
8:18:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  opined  that  the  bottom  line  is  that                                                               
criminals don't obey  gun laws.  This  legislation protects those                                                               
who use  guns in the  appropriate manner.   Representative Neuman                                                               
highlighted  the   following  language  from  the   Alaska  State                                                               
Constitution:  "The individual right to keep and bear arms shall                                                                
not be denied or infringed by the State or a political                                                                          
subdivision of the State."                                                                                                      
8:20:02 AM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN  JUDY, Alaska  State  Liaison,  National Rifle  Association                                                               
(NRA), urged support  for HB 184, which  strengthens and broadens                                                               
Alaska's existing firearm preemption  statute.  Mr. Judy provided                                                               
the following testimony:                                                                                                        
     The   current   law    only   narrowly   limits   local                                                                    
     governments'   ability   to   impose   two   types   of                                                                    
     restrictions.   First, on the  right to own  or possess                                                                    
     firearms  within  a  residence.   And  second,  on  the                                                                    
     transportation  of   unloaded  firearms.     Any  other                                                                    
     restrictions  may be  imposed by  local municipalities.                                                                    
     Further, the  existing law would allow  restrictions in                                                                    
     the two  aforementioned categories  if ratified  by the                                                                    
     voters,   and  this   is   not   right.     Fundamental                                                                    
     constitutional rights of a minority  should not be able                                                                    
     to  be  limited  just  because  a  majority  of  voters                                                                    
     support  such  a  restriction.   House  Bill  184  will                                                                    
     provide  for a  standardization  of  all firearms  laws                                                                    
     throughout  the State  of Alaska  based on  current and                                                                    
     future statutes  enacted by the state  legislature.  It                                                                    
     would make null and void  any local ordinances that are                                                                    
     more or less  restrictive than current state  law.  And                                                                    
     it's important  to emphasize,  however, that  this bill                                                                    
     will in no  way lessen the current body  of federal and                                                                    
     state firearms  laws.  The problem  with local firearms                                                                    
     ordinances is one  of sheer variety.   Where no uniform                                                                    
     state laws  are in place,  the result can be  a complex                                                                    
     patchwork of  restrictions that  change from  one local                                                                    
     jurisdiction  to the  next.   But it's  unreasonable to                                                                    
     require  citizens,  whether  they're residents  or  ...                                                                    
     persons  visiting  from out  of  state,  to memorize  a                                                                    
     myriad of varying laws.   Where inconsistent ordinances                                                                    
     are  in place,  law-abiding citizens  with no  criminal                                                                    
     intent  are  placed in  jeopardy  of  running afoul  of                                                                    
     restrictions  they don't  even  know  exist.   Further,                                                                    
     anti-gun  proposals and  restrictive ordinances  at the                                                                    
     local level threaten honest  firearm owners' rights and                                                                    
     the fundamental American  principle of equal protection                                                                    
     under  the  law  for  all   citizens.    The  necessary                                                                    
     criminal  laws should  be enacted  on  the state  level                                                                    
     because  the  uniform  application of  law  treats  all                                                                    
     citizens fairly  and because all citizens  in the state                                                                    
     should benefit  from and be protected  equally by those                                                                    
     laws which are determined  to be needed.  Additionally,                                                                    
     House  Bill  184  ... will  allow  law  enforcement  to                                                                    
     concentrate   on  the   real   criminal  element   ....                                                                    
     Enforcement of  unwitting violations by  otherwise law-                                                                    
     abiding   citizens  diverts   scarce  law   enforcement                                                                    
     resources.   Uniformity  is  what law-abiding  citizens                                                                    
     and  law enforcement  officials need  and deserve.   To                                                                    
     prevent the problems  associated with restrictive local                                                                    
     ordinances,   46  states   have  now   enacted  firearm                                                                    
     preemption laws.   The current Alaska law  is among the                                                                    
     weakest.  On behalf of  the NRA members and all firearm                                                                    
     owners  in  Alaska,  I  urge   your  support  for  this                                                                    
8:23:22 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JUDY  then turned to  the earlier  remark that in  the future                                                               
urban  centers could  control  rural areas.    However, Mr.  Judy                                                               
emphasized that  laws passed by  the legislature will  impact the                                                               
entire state, regardless of this  law.  This legislation would at                                                               
least  ensure that  abhorrent  laws wouldn't  be  passed in  some                                                               
areas  of the  state.   Mr.  Judy then  turned to  Representative                                                               
LeDoux's comment  with regard to the  possible inconsistency that                                                               
the courts  could create, with  which he  agreed.  Mr.  Judy also                                                               
agreed that  there could be  better language.   This legislation,                                                               
he opined, uses language from  Washington State's preemption law,                                                               
which was  passed some time  ago.  Mr.  Judy noted that  he spoke                                                               
with  the sponsor  regarding a  language [change].   However,  he                                                               
agreed with  the sponsor's desire  to move the  legislation today                                                               
and continue working on it through the process.                                                                                 
8:25:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if Mr. Judy's  language specifically                                                               
mentions preemption.                                                                                                            
MR.  JUDY suggested  deleting  the  language that's  inconsistent                                                               
with state  law and use  language that's more  of a command.   He                                                               
suggested the following language:   "A municipality may not enact                                                               
or  enforce any  ordinance regarding  the possession,  ownership,                                                               
sale,   transfer,   use,  carrying,   transportation,   taxation,                                                               
licensing, or registration of firearms."                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  if the  proposed  language  should                                                               
specifically address concealed weapons.                                                                                         
MR. JUDY  replied no,  because [the  legislation] is  saying that                                                               
local municipalities can't enact  or enforce any such ordinances.                                                               
The  state  law  already  addresses concealed  firearms  and  how                                                               
firearms may be carried.                                                                                                        
8:27:14 AM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER  YUHAS,  Executive   Director,  Alaska  Outdoor  Council                                                               
(AOC), provided the following testimony:                                                                                        
     On  behalf of  our  board of  directors  of the  Alaska                                                                    
     Outdoor Council  representing over 54 member  clubs and                                                                    
     nearly  4,000   associate  members  for   a  collective                                                                    
     membership of nearly 12,000  individuals, which is also                                                                    
     the  recognized  state  association  for  the  National                                                                    
     Rifle    Association,   I    would   like    to   thank                                                                    
     Representative Chenault  for his sponsorship of  HB 184                                                                    
     and   offer   our    enthusiastic   support   of   this                                                                    
     legislation.  ... We support  the amendments offered by                                                                    
     the   NRA.       House   Bill   184    recognizes   the                                                                    
     constitutionally    guaranteed    right   of    private                                                                    
     individuals  to keep  and bear  arms  and corrects  any                                                                    
     oversight   that   may    have   been   unintentionally                                                                    
     restrictive  of  that  right.   This  legislation  also                                                                    
     eliminates any  possible confusion  that may  be caused                                                                    
     to  the private  law-abiding citizen  as they  exercise                                                                    
     that right.   The  committee has already  discussed the                                                                    
     consequences   of  refusing   to  standardize   firearm                                                                    
     possession jeopardizing those  with the best intentions                                                                    
     to    unrealistic   expectations    and   unnecessarily                                                                    
     burdening  our  enforcement  authorities.   While  many                                                                    
     matters   should  remain   under   local  control,   no                                                                    
     municipality should have the  authority to restrict any                                                                    
     constitutionally  guaranteed right  to a  U.S. citizen.                                                                    
     This  committee   will  be  upholding   the  creational                                                                    
     founding document  of our great  country and  our state                                                                    
     by supporting  this legislation today with  its passage                                                                    
     and will enjoy  the full support of  the Alaska Outdoor                                                                    
     Council  in doing  so.   Please  pass this  legislation                                                                    
8:28:55 AM                                                                                                                    
STEVE VAN  SANT, State Assessor, Division  of Community Advocacy,                                                               
Department  of   Commerce,  Community,  &   Economic  Development                                                               
(DCCED), said that  he is present to answer questions  and is not                                                               
taking  a  position  on  HB  184.    However,  he  cautioned  the                                                               
committee  with   respect  to   Mr.  Judy's   earlier  suggestion                                                               
regarding  local  communities  not  being able  to  tax  firearms                                                               
because that can  fall under the sales  tax ordinances throughout                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
8:29:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT HAMANN  testified in support  of HB 184.   As a  citizen of                                                               
Alaska, Mr. Hamann  related that he travels  throughout the state                                                               
and shouldn't  have to  be concerned with  being pulled  over and                                                               
found  not  to  be abiding  by  the  local  law.   He  urged  the                                                               
committee to pass HB 184.                                                                                                       
8:31:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  moved to  report HB  184 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA objected.                                                                                                 
8:31:22 AM                                                                                                                    
A  roll call  vote was  taken.   Representatives Neuman,  Salmon,                                                               
Kott, LeDoux,  Olson, and Thomas  voted in favor of  reporting HB
184  from committee.   Representative  Cissna  voted against  it.                                                               
Therefore, HB  184 was  reported out of  the House  Community and                                                               
Regional Affairs Standing Committee by a vote of 6-1.                                                                           

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