Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/22/1994 08:00 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HCR 27 - SUPPORT NRA GUN SAFETY PROGRAM Number 374 CHAIR VEZEY called the meeting back to order at 9:12 a.m. and opened HCR 27 for discussion. Number 379 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE, HCR 27 SPONSOR, gave an overview of the bill. HCR 27 is an attempt to encourage school children in Alaska to learn to protect themselves from gun accidents. HCR 27 is not an advocacy program for gun ownership, it simply informs children on how to protect themselves. Similar to what children once learned about fire safety, stop-drop-and roll, the gun safety training program for kindergarten through sixth grade will teach them if there is a firearm present to leave the area and tell an adult. This program also applies to children who come across poorly stored firearms in the home. Representative Bunde realized the fact that since the NRA is sponsoring HCR 27, it might make some individuals nervous; however, he repeated, it does not advocate the possession or use of weapons. He commented that 560 children between the ages 10-14 died from firearm injuries. One out of eight deaths in children is due to firearm injuries. High schools have an increasing rate of violence and teaching children at a young age to stay away from them would be beneficial. Representative Bunde has owned firearms since he was twelve and his father taught him safety and responsibility. Children, these days, are not raised around firearms as much as they were in the past, and now have a greater chance of seeing one for the first time at the neighbors or in a backpack at school. Firearm accidents are preventable and the Eddie Eagle Program would give children "thrust" to be able to protect themselves and tell an adult in a firearm situation. (REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG reentered from the recess at 9:15 a.m.) Number 449 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS commented page 2, line 12, states, "whereas teachers and police departments in 42 states have already implemented a gun safety program for some elementary schools." He then asked if this was taken from one of his sources of information, as he imagined some teachers in every state teach gun safety. Number 457 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE responded the information in HCR 27 was information he received from the Eddie Eagle Program. These programs are formally recognized, as opposed to a section in a health safety class. He believed the Mat-Su area was the only area in Alaska with 27 schools teaching a firearms safety program. He was "grim" to say Anchorage schools do not have these programs and seem to be "in no great hurry to establish a program." Representative Bunde was informed by a parent there had been three firearm incidents in two schools in south Anchorage, and they are not being reported to the press or police. Apparently the school system wanted to reduce panic or deal with the problem themselves. He stated "on very good authority...in a related area, teachers were told to quit bringing complaints, no more kids were going to be suspended because it was making the school system look bad." Suspension has been a punishment for bringing firearms on campus. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER did not mind endorsing gun safety, but she would like to see a video of the specific program before she endorsed it. Without more information on the Eddie Eagle Program, she would be more inclined to support general gun safety programs. Number 488 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE replied he did have a video tape, posters, and coloring books. The tape had been given to someone, but he could get another. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER encouraged the committee to watch the video tape before adopting the program. She noted a title may be misconceiving about the contents of the tape. Number 496 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the video tape was the same as the one he had seen involving the police and the woman dialing 911. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE answered no, the Eddie Eagle video tape was aimed at young children being a cartoon with an eagle flying around and commenting. Number 501 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said the tape he had seen, published by the NRA, begins with a two minute discussion of an incident, then blends into the Eddie Eagle portion. This tape had a four-five minute clip on the gun safety program and he wondered if it was the same tape. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE replied the materials he has are what is available for use in the classrooms and Representative Kott may have the promotional tape about the program. Number 509 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned page two, line 13, if it was referring to the actual Eddie Eagle Program or various gun safety programs. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE answered the Eddie Eagle Program. Number 514 CHAIR VEZEY said his packet did not include any information about the narrative of the Eddie Eagle Program. He wanted to know if he was missing it. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE had not handed it out on the assumption the committee already knew what the program was about. Number 518 CHAIR VEZEY replied he had not known about it, but was certain it was a good program. House State Affairs Committee is the only committee of referral and he would let the committee decide. Number 522 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE would like the committee to review the tape before passing HCR 27 out of committee. The tape is already on order and it should be available soon. Hearing no objection from the committee to wait and see tape CHAIR VEZEY agreed. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said the content of the tape had been well discussed. The theme of the program tells children to tell an adult if they see a gun. Number 533 CHAIR VEZEY moved to the Fairbanks teleconference site. OLIVER BURRIS, TANANA VALLEY SPORTSMENS ASSOCIATION, testified in favor of HCR 27. He has been a hunter safety instructor for 31 years in Alaska and a NRA firearms instructor for 22 years. Alaska has one of the highest death and accident rates in the United States. Forty states have mandatory hunter safety training programs, a result of which has been a steady decline in hunting accidents throughout the nation. In 1992, only 146 people were killed by hunting accidents. More than ten times that number were killed in bicycle accidents. Juvenile hunting fatalities have dropped due to hunter safety training which the NRA started 40 years ago. The Eddie Eagle program "is not experimental and not research." The amount of firearms will not reduce, but the number of juvenile accidents can. Number 567 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if Mr. Burris said 44 states have a mandatory hunter safety program. MR. BURRIS clarified, only 40 states. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if the programs were for an adult hunter safety requirement. MR. BURRIS replied there is variation between states on whether one has to be an adult or a juvenile to take the program. Number 574 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if the programs were a requirement to acquire a hunting license for those states. What was their process? Number 576 MR. BURRIS answered, in some states the program is a requirement for a hunting license, and even if a license is not required, a juvenile must take the program before going hunting. States vary between everyone having the program and new hunters or juveniles only. Number 584 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER asked if Mr. Burris felt this would be a good idea for Alaska. MR. BURRIS responded it was another issue, but he was in favor of it. Number 586 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER questioned if any of the schools in his community are currently using the program or if they have had experience with it. Number 588 MR. BURRIS replied some of the schools teachers have used the program on an individual basis. There has not been an adoption of the program by any school he knows of. Number 591 DICK BISHOP, ALASKA OUTDOOR COUNCIL, STATEWIDE ORGANIZATION OF OUTDOOR USER GROUPS, ADVOCATES OF THE PROPER USE AND LAWFUL USE OF FIREARMS, testified in support of HCR 27. He said, HCR 27 will help educate children about safety in relation to firearms. The program is important in terms of preventing accidents among young people. The Eddie Eagle program is a successful program and he appreciated Representative Bunde for introducing it. Alaska should take an active role in reducing the amount of firearm accidents. Number 608 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER questioned whether the program had been used very much in Mr. Bishop's community. If he knew of a teacher who had experience with the program in his/her classroom, she would like to talk to them to find out how it was used, the children's reactions to it, and if it made a difference. Number 615 MR. BISHOP said he would contact Representative Ulmer if he found a teacher in his community. If not, he would look in other areas. There have been various attempts to adopt firearms education programs, but they have not received widespread integration into the school curriculums. Number 625 CHAIR VEZEY moved to the Bethel teleconference site. Number 626 VERN KEEZER testified in favor of HCR 27 and agreed with Mr. Burris and Mr. Bishop. He felt the Eddie Eagle program would be appropriate for older students, as well as elementary. For those in the hunting age of 10-18, hunter safety training should be available to them at the same time. Number 634 Hearing no more testimony, CHAIR VEZEY held HCR 27 in committee for further review. HB 392 was opened for discussion. He stated Representative Sean Parnell is chairing a House Finance Subcommittee meeting and could not come to testify; however, RICHARD VITALE would take his place. CHAIR VEZEY explained HB 392 is a technical bill which adopts into statute many of the current regulations, regarding the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, and clarifies issues that Mr. Vitale will highlight in his overview.