Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/09/1994 09:15 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CHAIRMAN LEMAN brings up SB 237 (WEAPONS POSSESSION/SALE BY/TO MINORS) as the first order of business before the committee today. The Chairman calls Portia Babcock to the table to present highlights of SB 237 to the committee and to the audience. Number 022 PORTIA BABCOCK, Aide to the Senate State Affairs Committee and Senator Loren Leman, states SB 237 was introduced to address the problem law enforcement agencies are having with juvenile weapons possessions and with the misuse of weapons by juveniles. SB 237 will require parental permission for the possession of a firearm by juveniles under eighteen years of age, and also that the minor be accompanied by a parent or guardian when purchasing a firearm. Penalties for violations would include, in addition to existing penalties, driver's license suspension for one year on the first offense, and driver's license suspension for two years plus one hundred hours of community service on the second offense. There are exceptions, those are delineated in the bill. They include shooting competitions, marksmanship, hunting and gun safety courses, lawful hunting and other outdoor activities. The proposed committee substitute also includes changes to procedures regarding juveniles who commit crimes with firearms. Number 064 MS. BABCOCK states the committee substitute for SB 237 also includes establishment of a permitting system for the carrying of concealed weapons by qualified, law-abiding citizens. Thirty-three other states in the U.S. have concealed carrying permitting systems. Number 070 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Ms. Babcock if the bill intends to exempt organized practice connected to a specific event and unorganized practice not connected with a specific event. Number 088 MS. BABCOCK thinks the intent of SB 237 is that the practice be in an area or rifle range where practice would normally take place. However, she is not certain and will check with Jack Chenoweth, the drafter of the legislation. Number 134 SENATOR ELLIS asks if the Alaska State Troopers have a position on SB 237. Number 136 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Sergeant Crawford if the Alaska State Troopers will be providing a position on SB 237, or if they plan to remain neutral on the bill. Number 138 SERGEANT RANDY CRAWFORD, Alaska State Troopers, testifying from Anchorage, says it is his understanding the Alaska State Troopers will be available for the committee meeting Friday, February 11, 1994, and will provide a position at that time. CHAIRMAN LEMAN announce the committee will return to SB 237 (WEAPONS POSSESSION/SALE BY/TO MINORS). The chairman calls for testimony on SB 237. Number 353 SCOTT CORYELL, Class I Federal Firearms license holder, testifying from Ketchikan, supports SB 237. He did have some concerns about sales of firearms to minors, but it appears his concerns have been addressed. He urges passage of SB 237. Number 362 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Mr. Coryell for his testimony and assures him that SB 237 will not have a problem passing from the Senate State Affairs Committee. The chairman calls the next witness. Number 365 MIKE McCARTHY, Representing the Kodiak Juvenile Task Force - formed to address juvenile violence, Kodiak Police Officer, School Liaison Officer, DARE Officer, testifying from Kodiak, says Kodiak represents a diverse population, which causes tension due to cultural differences, in addition to tensions caused by people coming into the community from gang areas outside the state. The Kodiak School District and the Kodiak Police Department are striving to insure the school environment is maintained as having zero tolerance for violence. Mr. McCarthy states the Kodiak Juvenile Task Force is supportive of SB 237, particularly the provision for forfeiture of driver's licenses for violations of the law. Part of the DARE lesson plan is knowing what the consequences of your actions will be. He also draws the committee's attention to the Federal Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990. He believes The State of Alaska is in arrears in incorporating this law into Alaska Statute. Mr. McCarthy notes the discrepancy in state statute classifying the carrying of a firearm in school as a class B misdemeanor, while carrying a switchblade, a gravity knife, or a set of brass knuckles is classified as a class A misdemeanor. Number 396 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Officer McCarthy for his testimony and calls the next witness. Number 403 OLIVER BURRIS, a firearms instructor (primarily of juveniles), testifying from Fairbanks, has questions about SB 237. Mr. Burris wants to know if he will need written permission from the parent or guardian for instructing juveniles and or taking juveniles on informal hunting trips. And if SB 237 would affect activities taking place on a private shooting range. Number 416 CHAIRMAN LEMAN says he will try to answer Mr. Burris's questions. He states the two requirements of SB 237 are to have either parental permission for that activity, or, if Mr. Burris is acting in his official capacity as a gun safety instructor, then those two exceptions would qualify that activity. Number 421 MR. BURRIS asks, if he were to meet with a juvenile at a particular location to go hunting, if the juvenile would be at risk of violating SB 237 while in transit to meeting the adult at the hunting location if the juvenile was unaccompanied while in transit. Number 427 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Mr. Burris if he has the committee substitute for SB 237 in front of him. Mr. Burris responds that he does not have the committee substitute, just the original bill. The chairman replies he will make explanations from the original bill, since Mr. Burris does not have a copy of the proposed committee substitute. On page 3, line 21, paragraph (6) of SB 237 identifies as an exception travelling to or from any activity described in paragraphs (1) through (5). Number 437 MR. BURRIS thanks the chairman for clarifying that exception. He asks if the proposed cs for SB 237 addresses concealed carrying of firearms. Chairman Leman replies that the proposed cs does address concealed carry, however, the committee has not yet formally adopted the committee substitute. Mr. Burris notes he favors a provision for registering individuals to carry a concealed weapon. He favors registration not necessarily of the concealed firearm, but of the individual carrying the firearm. He also would support a modest fee to cover registration expenses and thanks the committee for considering the carrying of concealed weapons. Number 453 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Mr. Burris for his testimony and calls the next witness. Number 454 TOM SCARBOROUGH, testifying from Fairbanks, says provision in law for concealed carry is long overdue. However, SB 237 seems overly restrictive in regards to carrying of firearms by juveniles. He thinks there will be times, particularly in bush Alaska, when there will not be a parent or guardian available to give permission to the juvenile to handle a firearm. He is also concerned about what can legally be done while travelling to and from and activity. If a juvenile stops at McDonald's on the way to an activity without permission from McDonald's, would that be in violation of the provisions in SB 237? Mr. Scarborough thinks maybe the juvenile should be allowed to also get consent from a person other than the juvenile's parent or guardian. Number 474 CHAIRMAN LEMAN states that, for Mr. Scarborough's first question, permission from a parent that covers more than one specific activity would certainly qualify, say if the child has a permission slip from the parent giving the juvenile general permission to use a firearm. The juvenile would not necessarily need permission for each specific instance or activity. Number 481 MR. SCARBOROUGH asks the chairman if he is saying a juvenile will need to carry a card giving him or her permission to carry a firearm. The chairman responds the committee hasn't clarified that possibility yet, and he is not sure how regulations implementing SB 237 will be adopted, but that may be a possibility. Mr. Scarborough states he is finished with his testimony so the chairman calls the next witness. Number 489 LAURA JANE WINEIGER, firearms safety instructor, NRA staff for Alaska, testifying from Anchorage, thanks the Senate State Affairs Committee for their work on the proposed cs for SB 237. She likes both aspects of the bill: provision to register carrying of concealed weapons and restrictions for juveniles carrying weapons. NRA policy recognizes that there should be certain restrictions on minors in regards to firearms. There are currently no laws on the books which adequately deal with the criminal misuse of firearms by juveniles. This bill would help solve that problem, while continuing to allow ample opportunity for youngsters to pursue lawful shooting and hunting activity. Ms. Wineiger states the concealed carry permit system is direly needed in the state for the protection of its' citizens from crime. She lists several crime statistics for Alaska. She claims it is unreasonable to expect a businessman or businesswoman to walk through town with a handgun strapped around the hip. Ms. Wineiger has taught personal safety firearms classes for many years, and when women in the classes find out that they have no means to carry their weapons other than in an external holster, they are astounded. These women do not consider it safe to go around carrying a holstered gun. Ms. Wineiger thanks the committee for their help. Number 541 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Ms. Wineiger for her testimony. The chairman announces that the bill will again be heard in committee on Friday, February 11, 1994. If people have further testimony at that time, or wish to listen in, they may do so. The chairman asks if there is anyone else wishing to testify at this time. Hearing none, he calls for a recess while the committee waits for Mr. Sandler to join the meeting via teleconference. Number 548 CHAIRMAN LEMAN calls the Senate State Affairs Committee meeting back to order at 10:00 a.m. The chairman calls Mr. Craig Sandler to testify. Number 554 CRAIG SANDLER, Director, Law Enforcement Activities for the NRA, former Police Chief in Nashua NH, testifying from Washington, DC, says that while he was the Police Chief in Nashua, Nashua had a concealed weapons policy for at least twenty-two years. He states it is not his intent to tell the state of Alaska how it should do things, but merely to convey a case-study of positive things which can happen as a result of allowing lawful citizens of a community to carry concealed weapons. While Chief of Police, he personally issued thousands of permits without incident. During a twelve year period of time he personally had to rescind two permits. During 1993 there was not one homicide in Nashua with a firearm, in spite of having thousands of concealed weapons permits. This was found to be true in other areas also, such as Florida. Mr. Sandler states the NRA also supports the other part of the bill regulating juveniles carrying weapons. The NRA agrees no juvenile should have a gun in school, with the exception of range-type activities such as marksmanship and gun safety and hunter safety courses. TAPE 94-7, SIDE B Number 582 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Mr. Sandler for his testimony and states the Alaska State Troopers will provide their position on Friday, February 11, 1994. The chairman believes the troopers will be concerned with vigilante justice occurring and asks Mr. Sandler if he has had experience with that type of problem. Number 574 MR. SANDLER says in his experiences there were no problems with vigilante justice type occurrences in Nashua. In fact, he believes an advantage of permitting persons to carry concealed weapons is that persons submitting to permitting are law-abiding citizens and that rapport can be established between the police and the permittees during the permitting process. He understands that concern, but that problem did not occur in Nashua. Number 566 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Mr. Sandler what requirements existed for receiving a permit in Nashua. Number 563 MR. SANDLER replies the requirements were essentially a criminal record check, finger-printing, a photograph, and a waiting period to enable the police department to check in-house and federal records. There was no requirement for proof of competency in firearms use, although Mr. Sandler does not oppose that type of requirement. Number 556 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Mr. Sandler for his testimony and asks if anyone else wishes to testify. Hearing none, he announces that SB 237 will be held over until the committee meeting Friday, February 11, 1994. Also on the agenda for Friday is SB 267 and SB 216.