Legislature(1999 - 2000)

1999-07-28 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

1999-07-28                     Senate Journal                      Page 1816
SB 130                                                                       
Message dated and received July 9, stating:                                    
Dear President Pearce:                                                         
Under authority of art. II, sec. 15 of the Alaska Constitution, I have         
vetoed the following bill:                                                     
HOUSE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 130(JUD)                                         
An Act relating to immunity for sale or transfer of                            
a firearm; relating to administrative functions                                
performed by and fees charged by the Department                                
of Public Safety for transfer of a firearm.                                    
The primary statutory functions of the Department of Public Safety             
are currently listed in AS 44.41.020(a) as those "relative to the              
protection of life and property." This bill adds to that statute the           
duty to administer "functions relating to transfer of a firearm," which        
is intended specifically for selling and trading fully automatic               
weapons. These are weapons designed to kill people and are                     
prohibited by Alaska law, but permitted under federal law with                 
proper certification. I do not wish to expend state resources to               
perform federal functions that allow lethal weapons in our state.              

1999-07-28                     Senate Journal                      Page 1817
SB 130                                                                       
The transfer authorization forms require a chief law enforcement               
officer to certify he or she has no reason to believe that a person            
who wishes to purchase such a weapon will use it illegally. The                
Department of Public Safety (DPS) has refused to sign these transfer           
forms for years, as have most local law enforcement agencies. They             
refuse to do so for good reason. To authorize a person to own such             
a weapon requires extensive and time consuming background                      
investigation and a leap of faith which responsible peace officers do          
not take.                                                                      
Alaska's policy to not sign these transfer forms is in line with other         
states as well. Among those states that refuse to sign the forms are           
Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, and                   
Texas. Even federal agencies in Alaska, such as the Federal Bureau             
of Investigation and the U.S. Marshal, have refused to sign these              
forms and have passed the duty on to state and local law                       
enforcement creating, essentially, an unfunded mandate. Local police           
departments rarely will complete these forms. To encourage them and            
the state to do so, SB 130 offers them liability immunity if the gun           
owner does end up using the weapon illegally.                                  
I veto this bill for several reasons:                                          
Currently the statutory core mission of DPS is to protect life                
and property. SB 130 would amend this core mission to                          
include transfer of weapons. I cannot agree that the transfer                  
of weapons, even if performed under a carefully planned                        
program, should be statutorily elevated to the importance of                   
life and safety. To do so trivializes and diminishes the                       
agency's primary function.                                                     
It arguably requires state and local law enforcement agencies                 
to endorse ownership of weapons that are illegal in Alaska.                    
It arguably requires state and local law enforcement agencies                 
to perform a federal function.                                                 

1999-07-28                     Senate Journal                      Page 1818
SB 130                                                                       
It allows ownership of these weapons by people who,                           
although they may have qualified for a concealed handgun                       
permit, have not been screened by the extensive and costly                     
background checks such ownership demands.                                      
It is poorly drafted, leading to ambiguity as to its practical                
It was not given the thoughtful attention and probing                         
analysis legislation of this importance requires. Events in our                
state and throughout the country show us that careless                         
attention to weapon ownership is deadly.                                       
It could encourage weapon transfers without thorough                          
background investigation because of the liability immunity                     
It threatens public safety because people other than the legal                
owner may gain access to the weapon.                                           
Supporters of this bill claim its intent is merely to assist gun               
collectors who want to trade their automatic weapons. But we must              
weigh the desires of an honest collector with the overall public               
safety. I cannot endorse legislation intended to facilitate ownership          
of these weapons.                                                              
					Tony Knowles