Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/22/1997 05:00 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 141                                                          
     "An Act relating to permits to carry concealed handguns; and              
     relating to the possession of firearms."                                  
Co-chair Sharp provided history of the bill in committee.                      
Senator Phillips MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 1.                                   
Co-chair Sharp OBJECTED for discussion.                                        
Senator Phillips explained that  under current law, a homeowner had            
to post  a sign on  their property  warning that concealed  weapons            
were not  allowed in  the home  or on the  property. The  amendment            
would delete  the requirement  of the homeowner  to post  the sign.            
Instead,  the  person  carrying   the  concealed  weapon  would  be            
required  to  notify  the  homeowner  of the  weapon  and  ask  for            
permission to enter.                                                           
Senator  Parnell   opined  that  the  amendment  went   beyond  the            
description offered  and the intent of the sponsor.  Co-chair Sharp            
explained the amendment.                                                       
The OBJECTION was MAINTAINED.                                                  
A roll call was taken on the motion.                                           
IN FAVOR: Adams, Phillips, Pearce, Sharp                                       
OPPOSED: Torgerson, Parnell, Donley                                            
The motion PASSED (4/3). Amendment 1 was adopted.                              
Co-chair Sharp noted that Amendment 2 would not be offered.                    
Senator Adams MOVED to ADPOPT Amendment 3.                                     
Senator Adams explained  that the amendment would  clearly describe            
the penalty and avoid a double standard.                                       
Senator  Pearce  OBJECTED  to  the  amendment,  which  she  thought            
changed the intent of the bill.                                                
Senator Adams questioned restrictions.                                         
that  Amendment 3  would extend  gun control  by restricting  where            
people could go with open or concealed  weapons. He stated that the            
sponsor wanted  people who  committed a  Class A misdemeanor  after            
getting the  permit to lose  the right  to get another  permit ever            
again.  He  pointed  to Section  18.65.740(a)(2).  He  stated  that            
Senator Green proposed  an amendment to version X of  the bill that            
would   delete  (Section   17,   page  8)   the   repealer  of   AS            
18.65.749(a)(2). Anyone  who committed a Class A  misdemeanor after            
a conviction would  lose the right to carry a  concealed weapon. He            
pointed to  a March  24 memo  to the committee  from legal  counsel            
listing who  could not carry. He  noted that the amendment  did not            
deal  with who  could  carry but  where a  person  could carry.  He            
agreed  that the  provision would  be more  appropriate to  another            
piece of legislation.                                                          
In  response  to  a  question   by  Senator  Parnell,  Mr.  Babcock            
responded that  the current  situation in Alaska  law was  that the            
court  system   had  interpreted   the  constitutional   provisions            
allowing the court  system to control firearms in  court houses and            
had an administrative order to that effect.                                    
Senator Parnell  asked what a person  caught in a  courthouse would            
be prosecuted under. Mr. Babcock did not know.                                 
DEAN  GUANELI, DEPARTMENT  OF LAW,  testified that  there were  two            
possibilities  for   dealing  with  a  gun  in   a  courtroom.  One            
possibility was that a person could  be arrested and prosecuted for            
criminal  trespass if  the person  was told to  leave and  refused.            
More commonly,  a judge who saw  a gun in a courtroom  would simply            
hold the person in contempt of  court, and use the contempt powers.            
He referred  to a case that went  to the Alaska Supreme  Court over            
twenty years  prior involving  a person who  came into  a courtroom            
with a  gun; the judge  held the person  in contempt of  court, and            
established  the inherent  power to control  the courtroom  through            
contempt powers.                                                               
Senator Parnell  asked whether  the state could proscribe  carrying            
weapons in  state offices. Mr.  Babcock replied that  under current            
law, anyone could carry openly in state office buildings.                      
Senator Parnell questioned whether  the state had the power to post            
a particular building  against carrying open or  concealed weapons.            
Mr. Babcock  replied that  the legislature  had never provided  the            
state with the  authority for open carry; only  permitted concealed            
carry was banned under current law.                                            
Mr.  Guaneli reported  that  an opinion  had  been  written by  the            
attorney  general several  years prior regarding  the authority  to            
post  signs  and  prohibit  certain  activity,  including  carrying            
concealed weapons. He  added that the opinion of  the Department of            
Law  was that  anyone  could  post a  sign  in a  public  building,            
including the state.  In a building open to the  public, however, a            
posted sign  was not effective  to prosecute someone  with criminal            
trespass. The  person would have to  go into the building,  be told            
to leave,  and refuse to leave.  The mere posting of the  sign gave            
people notice  that they were not  supposed to be there,  but would            
not  allow  them  to  be  arrested.   The  posted  sign  would  not            
effectively prohibit a person from carrying weapons.                           
Senator  Parnell  asked  whether buildings  were  currently  posted            
against  carrying open  or concealed  weapons. He  referred to  the            
distinction  made  by  the  sponsor   between  open  and  concealed            
weapons. Mr. Guaneli did not believe  buildings were posted at that            
time.  He  pointed  out  that  each  building  manager  dealt  with            
security problems as  they arose; if they saw  someone walking into            
a building  with a  gun, they  would call  the security guard.  The            
fear was not knowing when someone was carrying a concealed weapon.             
Senator  Parnell  asked  what facilities  providing  protection  to            
victims of domestic violence or  sexual assault could do to prevent            
open or  concealed weapons from  being brought into a  shelter. Mr.            
Babcock replied that the shelter  would be able to post a sign that            
would  apply equally  to carrying  open or  concealed weapons.  The            
sign could  advise people that it  would be a violation  of the law            
to enter the premises and that  a person refusing to leave would be            
criminally  trespassing. He  did  not know  whether  such a  person            
would be prosecuted as a Class A or a Class B misdemeanor.                     
Mr. Guaneli  noted that domestic  violence facilities  were private            
and not generally open to the  public. The posting of the sign in a            
private facility was  enough in and of itself to  allow a person to            
be charged  with an offense; it  was not technically  required that            
the  person be  told to  leave and  then  refuse to  leave, as  was            
required in public buildings.                                                  
SENATOR  LYDA  GREEN,  SPONSOR,   wanted  to  redirect  focus.  She            
maintained that the legislation was about permitting and permit-               
holders. She did not think it  mattered what was posted or what the            
law was.  She thought a  person who  was determined to  do mischief            
would not get a permit, would  not ask permission, and would not be            
concerned  about a sign  on a  building. The  bill was intended  to            
focus on people  who felt they needed personal  protection in their            
daily lives.                                                                   
Senator Parnell asked  what weapons were allowed or  not allowed on            
a school bus,  and queried the applicable provision;  he pointed to            
the mention of  school buses in the amendment. Mr.  Babcock did not            
know  the purpose  of the  restriction.  He stated  that on  school            
grounds  and  in schools,  the  written  permission of  the  school            
administrator  was required  for adults.  Children going to  school            
did not need  permission if they  were in a shooting or  rifle club            
at school.                                                                     
Senator   Phillips  queried   federal  or   state  laws   regarding            
prohibition against a permit holder  possessing a concealed weapon,            
especially   regarding  where.   Mr.  Babcock   replied  that   the            
Department  of Public  Safety was  trying  to acquire  the list  of            
federal restrictions.  He listed  the places  he was familiar  with            
[where a person  could not carry concealed]: all  federal buildings            
and  buildings  in  which there  were  federal  offices,  airports,            
correction  facilities,   state  and  federal   courthouses,  state            
correctional facilities,  and school grounds. He also  included any            
private entity that wished to post a sign forbidding firearms.                 
Senator  Phillips  concluded  that  the  repealer  was  essentially            
covered  by federal  law. Mr. Babcock  agreed  that it was  covered            
either by  federal law, or  by Mr. Guaneli's  explanation of  how a            
state  office could  post, or by  criminal trespass  for a  private            
building.  He stated  that the  purpose of  the bill  was to  treat            
people who were permitted the same way as people who carry openly.             
The OBJECTION to Amendment 3 was MAINTAINED.                                   
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                      
IN FAVOR: Adams, Phillips                                                      
OPPOSED: Donley, Torgerson, Parnell, Pearce, Sharp                             
The motion FAILED (5/2). Amendment 3 was not adopted.                          
Senator  Donley MOVED  to  ADOPT Amendment  4,  to delete  language            
pertaining to  the repealer, on  page 8, line  6 [18.65.740(a)(2)].            
He  explained that  the deleted  portion stipulated  that a  person            
getting  a  misdemeanor  after  getting  a permit  would  lose  the            
permit:   the  "permit  to   carry  concealed   handgun  shall   be            
immediately  revoked  by  the  department  when  the  permittee  is            
convicted  of two  Class A misdemeanors  of this  state or  similar            
laws of another jurisdiction within  a five-year period if at least            
one of the convictions occurs after".                                          
Co-chair  Sharp queried  Class A  misdemeanors, and  was told  that            
examples included drunk driving,  fourth-degree assaults (generally            
without a weapon), a number of  drug offenses (including possession            
of  more  than  one-half  pound   of  marijuana),  and  some  theft            
offenses.  He  noted  that it  was  the  general  misdemeanor-level            
offense that applied to a wide range of conduct.                               
There being no OBJECTION, Amendment 4 was adopted.                             
Senator  Donley queried  treatment  of offenders  with  misdemeanor            
offenses  involving   violent  conduct.  Senator   Green  responded            
Senator  Pearce MOVED  to REPORT  CSSB 141 (FIN)  out of  committee            
with individual recommendations  and the accompanying  fiscal note.            
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                   
CSSB   141  (FIN)   was  REPORTED   out  of   committee  with   "no            
recommendation"  and  previously   published  fiscal  note  by  the            
Department of  Public Safety and  previously published  zero impact            
note by the Department of Public Safety.                                       

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