Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

04/22/2005 01:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 184 MUNICIPAL FIREARM ORDINANCES TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 184 am Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
= HB 229 REINSTATEMENT OF NATIVE CORPORATIONS
Moved HB 229 Out of Committee
= SB 171 NPR-A COMMUNITY GRANT PROGRAM
Moved SB 171 Out of Committee
= SB 179 MINERALS TAX/PAYMENTS TO MUNIS IN LIEU
Heard & Held
            HB 184 AM -MUNICIPAL FIREARM ORDINANCES                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced HB 184 to be up for consideration.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Erich DeLand, Staff for  Representative Mike Chenault, introduced                                                               
HB 184 saying  the intent is "to ensure that  citizens be able to                                                               
look  to one  law as  the  single and  final authority  regarding                                                               
firearm  regulation." It  will guarantee  consistency in  firearm                                                               
laws within Alaska.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:11:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIAN  JUDY,  Alaska  State Liaison  for  the  National  Rifleman                                                               
Association  (NRA), urged  support  for HB  184. The  legislation                                                               
would broaden  and strengthen the  existing statute.  Current law                                                               
narrowly  limits   local  municipalities'  ability   to  restrict                                                               
firearms in  two areas. First  is the  right to own  or possesses                                                               
firearms within a residence and  the second is the transportation                                                               
of  unloaded firearms  in  a vehicle.  Under  current law,  local                                                               
municipalities can impose any other restrictions.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Existing law  would allow restrictions  in those  two affirmation                                                               
categories if  approved by  the voters.  The NRA  doesn't believe                                                               
that's  right. The  fundamental constitutional  rights of  even a                                                               
minority of the people should not  be restricted by a majority of                                                               
voters at some  point in the future should they  decide that they                                                               
want to support such a restriction.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 184  would standardize  all the  firearms laws  throughout the                                                               
state  based  on  current  and future  statutes  enacted  by  the                                                               
Legislature. It would  void any ordinances that are  more or less                                                               
restrictive than  state law.  He emphasized  it would  not lessen                                                               
the existing body of state or federal laws.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The problem with  local firearm ordinances is that  they create a                                                               
complex patchwork of differing laws,  which is unfair to citizens                                                               
because they are  at risk of violating laws that  can vary widely                                                               
from community to community.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Currently 45  states deal with  the problem of  patchwork firearm                                                               
laws by  having firearm  preemption laws  on the  books. Alaska's                                                               
firearm  preemption law  is now  among  the weakest  and the  NRA                                                               
believes it should be strengthened and broadened.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:15:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BERT   STEDMAN  asked   how  many   municipalities  have                                                               
ordinances that are more restrictive than the state's.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JUDY replied  he could  speak to  that with  respect to  one                                                               
specific issue. The Legislature  passed legislation two years ago                                                               
repealing the requirement that a person  hold a permit to carry a                                                               
firearm   concealed   for    self-protection.   Currently   eight                                                               
municipalities have laws that require permits.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Some municipalities would oppose the  bill based on the fact that                                                               
their  municipal  ordinances  would  be  overturned.  Except  for                                                               
carrying  concealed firearms,  he  believes  most ordinances  are                                                               
consistent  with state  law.  There's a  state  law dealing  with                                                               
firearms in  schools and  a state  law restricting  possession of                                                               
firearms in  bars. The  bill was  amended on  the House  floor to                                                               
allow municipalities to enact discharge ordinances.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
The NRA  is concerned about what  could happen in the  future and                                                               
wants to prevent  future passage of restrictive  gun control laws                                                               
on the local level.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:17:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  YUHAS,  Executive   Director,  Alaska  Outdoor  Council                                                               
(AOC), echoed  Mr. Judy's  testimony and  noted she  sent written                                                               
testimony  to the  committee. The  AOC enthusiastically  endorses                                                               
the bill,  which would more fully  recognize the constitutionally                                                               
guaranteed right to own firearms.  Furthermore it would eliminate                                                               
confusion  for   law-abiding  citizens   and  remove   the  undue                                                               
pressures of the already extended enforcement authorities.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:18:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHERRIE RUESCH,  Chugiak resident, said  she trains 4-H  youth in                                                               
shooting  sports and  the consistency  provided by  HB 184  would                                                               
help 4-H clubs as they  expand their shooting educations programs                                                               
She  would  no longer  have  to  worry  about knowing  all  local                                                               
firearm ordinances  when she travels  to other communities  to do                                                               
training                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS  WAGONER  questioned  how  many  4-H  clubs  have                                                               
shooting programs.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RUESCH  replied  not  every 4-H  club  works  with  firearms                                                               
because  not all  firearms  instructors  are comfortable  working                                                               
with youths.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER  asked what the  requirements are for a  youth to                                                               
get a hunting license.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RUESCH replied  those born  after  1986 must  take a  hunter                                                               
safety course.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:21:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHANNON DAY, Bethel resident, spoke in support of the bill.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ASHLEE MCDOUGAL, Houston resident, spoke in support of the bill.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
VICTORIA COAN, Wasilla resident, spoke in support of the bill.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HEIDI  SHEPHARD,  Fairbanks resident,  spoke  in  support of  the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SASHA RUESCH, Chugiak resident, spoke in support of the bill.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LUKE ENGVALL, Kodiak resident, spoke in support of the bill.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BENJAMIN SMITH,  Eagle River  resident, spoke  in support  of the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JUSTIN SHATTUCK, Chugiak resident, spoke in support of the bill.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:28:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHIE  WASSERMAN, Public  Policy  Coordinator, Alaska  Municipal                                                               
League (AML), said AML had  reservations with the bill related to                                                               
the word  "use" but that  appears to  be resolved with  the House                                                               
amendment.  Hopefully,  the   word  "reasonable"  doesn't  become                                                               
similarly problematic.  She though AML discomfort  would cease as                                                               
long as  municipalities are able  to prohibit the firing  of arms                                                               
within certain areas of the municipality.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS summarized that  AML is comfortable  with the                                                               
House  amendment  to  allow  municipalities   to  deal  with  the                                                               
discharge of firearms within municipal boundaries.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WASSERMAN   replied  she  believes  AML   would  remove  its                                                               
objection as long as the House amendment is in the bill.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:30:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS opened teleconference testimony.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT HAMMON, Kenai resident, testified  that the bill is prudent                                                               
and reasonable.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CARY  GRAVES,  Attorney,  City   of  Kenai,  testified  that  his                                                               
testimony  is  similar  to  Ms.  Wasserman's.  The  city  has  an                                                               
ordinance   that  prohibits   the   discharge   of  firearms   in                                                               
residential areas,  but allows it  in non-residential  areas. The                                                               
concern with  the original version  of HB  184 was that  it would                                                               
repeal the  ordinance. The House  floor amendment  alleviates the                                                               
concern   by  allowing   municipalities  to   provide  reasonable                                                               
restrictions on  the discharge of  firearms. He urged  members to                                                               
keep the amended language in the bill.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DENNY K. WEATHERS, spoke in support  of HB 184 and noted she also                                                               
faxed her testimony to the committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS noted there was no further testimony.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:34:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER motioned to report  HB 184 AM and attached fiscal                                                               
notes from committee with individual recommendations.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS asked  for a  roll call  vote. The  motion to                                                               
move HB 184 AM carried 3  to 0 with Senators Stedman, Wagoner and                                                               
Chair Gary Stevens voting yea.                                                                                                  

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