Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/30/2003 01:48 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                              
                   SB 152-CONCEALED HANDGUNS                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 152 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:18 - 2:20 p.m. - at ease                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BRIAN HOVE,  Staff to  Senator Seekins,  sponsor of  SB 152,                                                               
explained:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     In 2002, SB 242 was  introduced to clarify and simplify                                                                    
     the  procedures   for  recognizing   concealed  handgun                                                                    
     permits  for  other states.  As  a  result of  a  floor                                                                    
     amendment offered late in  the session, recognition was                                                                    
     limited to  those permits held  by individuals  who had                                                                    
     not  had  a  permit  denied or  revoked.  Although  the                                                                    
     amendment appeared to be reasonable  on the surface, an                                                                    
     unintended  consequence  resulted  in Texas,  the  most                                                                    
     populous state in the  Union, refusing reciprocity. The                                                                    
     refusal  is  technically  bureaucratic in  nature,  yet                                                                    
     presents a  barrier to reciprocity. SB  152 attempts to                                                                    
     resolve  this  issue. The  first  section  of the  bill                                                                    
     recognizes permit  holders from other states  and valid                                                                    
     permit  holders  in Alaska.  A  second  section of  the                                                                    
     legislation  requires the  Alaska Department  of Public                                                                    
     Safety to enter into  reciprocity agreements with other                                                                    
     states when  it is  necessary to benefit  Alaska permit                                                                    
     holders.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH asked how many permits are in the state.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOVE  replied that  he didn't have  that information,  but he                                                               
would get it for him.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  said he would also  like to know how  many people                                                               
apply each year and, of that group, how many are turned down.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. BRIAN JUDY, National Rifle  Association, supported SB 152 for                                                               
the  reasons stated  by  Mr.  Hove. He  reported  that there  are                                                               
approximately 17,600  permits outstanding  in Alaska and  most of                                                               
those  were issued  in  the early  years  (after concealed  carry                                                               
became law in  1995). Now, the bulk of the  permits are renewals.                                                               
Each year approximately  35 permits are either  denied or revoked                                                               
and most of those are because  a person is prohibited from owning                                                               
a firearm.  They would not  be qualified  to receive a  permit in                                                               
any other state for those reasons.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  said typically  being a  convicted felon  is what                                                               
keeps  people from  being able  to  get a  permit. He  questioned                                                               
whether Alaska  would receive  any kind of  alert if  a convicted                                                               
felon were to leave this state and  go to another state and get a                                                               
permit  there based  because  the  other state  failure  to do  a                                                               
thorough check.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JUDY  responded  yes.  All the  states  that  issue  permits                                                               
background checks and  most have that requirement  in their state                                                               
statute.  Virtually  every  one  of those  states,  like  Alaska,                                                               
requires that the background check be fingerprint based.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH clarified that he  was thinking about the legality                                                               
of the permit, itself, and  perhaps the person changed one letter                                                               
on his name so they didn't get  a good check or perhaps the check                                                               
wasn't done properly or done at all.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked if  it would  be difficult  to get  a permit                                                               
revoked if  a resident  here knew  of a  convicted felon  who had                                                               
one.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY replied:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     If it  was determined that  a person was  in possession                                                                    
     of a  firearm and  a concealed  weapon permit  and they                                                                    
     were, in  fact, ineligible for the  permit because they                                                                    
     were  prohibited from  owning firearms,  they could  be                                                                    
     arrested  and  charged  merely for  possession  of  the                                                                    
     firearm.  Alaska  state  law  allows  anybody  who  can                                                                    
     lawfully own and possess a  firearm to carry openly. If                                                                    
     a  person  did, under  the  rare  circumstance where  a                                                                    
     person  had a  permit denied  or revoked  for a  reason                                                                    
     that  was  not  prohibiting,  they  could  still  carry                                                                    
     openly in  Alaska and it would  basically nullify their                                                                    
     need to go out of state in the first place.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked if there was a definition for open carry.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY said yes.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  whether a person that did not  have a permit                                                               
to  carry a  concealed  weapon  would be  deemed  to be  carrying                                                               
openly or  carrying concealed  if they  put their  firearm inside                                                               
the console in  their car so it couldn't be  seen while they were                                                               
shopping.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY  replied, "If the  firearm is  carried on or  around the                                                               
person and  concealed, under existing  law, they are  required to                                                               
have  a  permit unless  they  are  engaged  in a  lawful  outdoor                                                               
activity."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Shopping would not be considered  an outdoor activity and in that                                                               
case,  it would  be concealed  and they  would have  to take  the                                                               
firearm out of the console and have it someplace in the open.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if there  was  anything in  this bill  that                                                               
would cause Alaskans  not to be able to get  reciprocity with any                                                               
other state.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JUDY replied  if  this bill  passes, we  would  have a  fine                                                               
recognition law  and an effective opportunity  for the Department                                                               
of Public Safety (DPS) to enter into reciprocity agreements.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked if had  been adjudicated that carrying a                                                               
gun in a glove  box is concealed and if you  don't have a permit,                                                               
that's against the law.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY replied  he wasn't positive there was case  law and if a                                                               
firearm was in  the trunk, that would be okay,  but it would have                                                               
to be unloaded.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said he didn't  understand what was  meant by                                                               
on or about your person.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said he didn't think it was clear either.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  observed that AS 11.61.220,  misconduct involving                                                               
weapons  in the  fifth  degree, makes  it a  crime  to possess  a                                                               
deadly weapon  concealed on the  person. While he was  a district                                                               
attorney, he  looked at situations  with guns under the  seat and                                                               
didn't even  think about  prosecuting a person  unless it  was on                                                               
the person.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked if  a  firearm  was being  carried  or                                                               
concealed if it was in a purse.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH replied  he  wouldn't argue  that  point, if  the                                                               
person was  in a car.  District attorneys were always  very aware                                                               
that Alaskan  juries would give the  benefit of the doubt  to the                                                               
citizen.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-33, SIDE B                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
MR. JUDY said different states  handle the issue differently. The                                                               
state  of  Oregon  allows  loaded and  unloaded  firearms  to  be                                                               
carried in  vehicles; the state  of Montana requires  a concealed                                                               
weapon permit  if you're carrying  concealed within  city limits.                                                               
Vermont doesn't require a concealed  permit at all. He noted that                                                               
Representative Croft  has a  bill that  would follow  the Vermont                                                               
law.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  he was  concerned  about the  law not  being                                                               
prosecuted,  which  could  lead   to  selective  prosecution.  He                                                               
thought it would be worth looking at eliminating it.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS announced that SB 152 would be held in committee.                                                                 

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