Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/30/2003 01:48 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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.