Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/22/1994 03:00 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 417 - POSSESSION OF FIREARMS IN SCHOOL LOCKERS                            
  CHAIR BUNDE stated that after much consideration, he had                     
  Jerry Luckhaupt from Legislative Legal Counsel draft the new                 
  committee substitute (CS) that prescribes punishment to be a                 
  class A misdemeanor opposed to a Class C felony.  It was his                 
  intention that the Class A misdemeanor would send the                        
  appropriate message.                                                         
  Number 165                                                                   
  REP. TOOHEY made a motion to adopt the CS as a working                       
  Number 169                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE, hearing no objections, declared that the CS was                 
  so moved.  He stated that Section 1 amends AS 11.61.220 by                   
  providing that a person commits the crime of misconduct                      
  involving weapons in the fourth degree if the person                         
  possesses a deadly weapon on school grounds, a parking lot,                  
  preschool, elementary, junior high, secondary, and in some                   
  situations, post-secondary schools.  He said the violation                   
  is a Class B demeanor.                                                       
  CHAIR BUNDE then said, "Mr. Luckhaupt, I thought we moved to                 
  Class A."                                                                    
  Number 202                                                                   
  MR. LUCKHAUPT, Attorney, Legislative Legal Counsel,                          
  Legislative Affairs Agency, stated that the section Chair                    
  Bunde read from was used for the original CS.  He further                    
  stated that since he had been working all day, prior to the                  
  meeting, on the CS he did not have time to prepare a                         
  Number 234                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE indicated that version 8-LS1589/O (version O) of                 
  the CS was the proposal being addressed.  He asked Mr.                       
  Luckhaupt to address CS (version O).                                         
  MR. LUCKHAUPT said that Section 1 makes possession of deadly                 
  weapons on school grounds and school sponsored events a                      
  Class A misdemeanor.  He said it was the same language used                  
  in AS 11.61.220 of the previous CS (version J).  He                          
  continued and said Section 2 applies an exception to peace                   
  officers that allows them, within the performance of duty,                   
  to possess a deadly weapon on school grounds.  Section 3                     
  repeals the language that was taken out of AS 11.61.220                      
  regarding the possession of a firearm on school grounds.  He                 
  stated it was a conforming change.  He said Section 4 and                    
  Section 5 remain the same.  He indicated a change on page 1,                 
  line 1, of the title, where the word deadly was deleted,                     
  leaving the title to indicate the possession of weapons, not                 
  deadly weapons.                                                              
  Number 323                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE clarified by saying the term weapons would                       
  include deadly and defensive weapons.                                        
  MR. LUCKHAUPT agreed.  He said the changes required were                     
  minimal in changing from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A.                 
  CHAIR BUNDE said last week the bill was amended to include                   
  school sponsored events.                                                     
  Number 353                                                                   
  REP. TOOHEY said she might be missing Section 5.                             
  MR. LUCKHAUPT interjected that a mistake was made and that                   
  Section 6 should be Section 5.                                               
  Number 387                                                                   
  After some discussion, REP. TOOHEY, made a motion to adopt                   
  the technical amendment changing Section 6 to Section 5.                     
  REP. BRICE asked if the word participating would include                     
  being a person who purchases a ticket and sits in the                        
  CHAIR BUNDE said that it was his understanding that a                        
  prosecutor would be able to establish to the jury the                        
  offenders' intentions under the definition of participating.                 
  Number 403                                                                   
  MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorneys General, Department of                     
  Law, agreed with Chair Bunde.                                                
  REP. BRICE asked if the legislation was applicable to people                 
  walking in and out of the gates of a football game in a                      
  borough park.                                                                
  MS. KNUTH replied yes.                                                       
  Number 434                                                                   
  REP. OLBERG asked if there was a definition of defensive                     
  CHAIR BUNDE responded that defensive weapon is defined in                    
  MR. LUCKHAUPT read from statute the definition of defensive                  
  weapon:  "an electric stun gun, or a devise to dispense mace                 
  or a similar chemical agent that is not designed to cause                    
  death or serious physical injury."                                           
  Number 455                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY asked if lines 1-10 on page 3 were being deleted.                 
  MR. LUCKHAUPT said that AS 11.61.220 (a)(4)(a) was being                     
  REP. VEZEY stated that the line would read, "...knowingly                    
  possesses a firearm within the grounds or on a parking lot."                 
  MR. LUCKHAUPT agreed.  He said that lines 12-15 on page 3                    
  pertained to child care centers.  He indicated that the                      
  proposal was dealing with schools and weapons in school                      
  lockers and child care centers could not be included.                        
  Number 520                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY asked what the intent was under Section 2.                        
  CHAIR BUNDE said it was not his intent to disallow peace                     
  officers to have a deadly weapon when they are on school                     
  REP. VEZEY asked what Chair Bunde interpreted as being the                   
  scope and authority of a peace officer's employment.                         
  CHAIR BUNDE stated that they are following their sworn duty.                 
  REP. VEZEY asked what the circumstances would be if the                      
  peace officers were off duty.                                                
  CHAIR BUNDE maintained that they are still sworn officers.                   
  He further stated if a person is a sworn officer and is off                  
  duty, that officer is required to respond to crimes in                       
  REP. VEZEY suggested that the sentence be terminated after                   
  the words peace officer.                                                     
  Number 565                                                                   
  MR. LUCKHAUPT stated that the section was drafted the same                   
  way as existing statute.  He further stated that from his                    
  understanding peace officers are in reality on duty 24 hours                 
  a day within a municipality, even though pay is for only                     
  eight hours a day.                                                           
  MS. KNUTH agreed with Mr. Luckhaupt.  She said she did not                   
  find the language troublesome.                                               
  REP. VEZEY asked the legal circumstance of an off duty                       
  Fairbanks peace officer who attends a North Pole school                      
  function.  He stated that the officer would be clearly out                   
  of his/her jurisdiction.                                                     
  MS. KNUTH said that the language contained in the CS is the                  
  same language used for concealed weapons, which holds                        
  exception for peace officers.  She also explained that if a                  
  peace officer has the ability to carry a concealed weapon                    
  anywhere, he/she is also able to go on to school grounds.                    
  Number 636                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE asked if there would be legal implications to an                 
  officer in uniform wearing a nonconcealed weapon.                            
  MS. KNUTH she said what is trying to be avoided is the peace                 
  officer who "goes bonkers" and goes to a school ground.  She                 
  said that peace officers have no special privileges because                  
  of their specific employment.                                                
  CHAIR BUNDE stated, "Beyond the scope of their employment."                  
  MS. KNUTH agreed.                                                            
  CHAIR BUNDE understood Rep. Vezey's concern, but said he was                 
  comfortable with the language.                                               
  Number 685                                                                   
  REP. NICHOLIA conveyed the rural perspective.  She said some                 
  students have a long distance to travel to school.  She said                 
  they carry guns with them, in a car or truck, or walking, in                 
  case of bear encounters.  She asked what kind of impact the                  
  proposal would have on rural areas.                                          
  MS. KNUTH explained that there should be no impact because                   
  the focus of the proposal is to change the offense from a                    
  Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.  She indicated                 
  that there is already a provision to allow a student to                      
  obtain special permission from a school administrator to                     
  carry a weapon.                                                              
  REP. NICHOLIA said that the legislation would allow a person                 
  over 21 years of age to have a gun in the trunk of a car or                  
  encased in a closed container in a motor vehicle.  She                       
  asserted that in rural areas there are more trucks than                      
  cars.  She explained that with trucks not having trunks,                     
  most people have racks in their trucks.  She felt that the                   
  legislation would have a drastic effect on rural                             
  communities, and asked if there could be a change made to                    
  address the issue.                                                           
  MS. KNUTH said the issue was addressed when the language was                 
  adopted by the legislature two or three years ago.  She said                 
  that the law provides for these situations.  She said if a                   
  person in a rural community continually picks their child up                 
  from school in a truck with a rack with a rifle on it,                       
  special arrangements should be made with the school                          
  administrator.  She said the provision focuses mainly on                     
  having knowledge of the weapons in a community and making                    
  sure that people are acting responsibly.                                     
  REP. NICHOLIA said, "A state trooper or someone who might be                 
  in the area could interpret it in a different way, and we'd                  
  end up with a huge lawsuit or huge court case."  She then                    
  said that people in rural areas usually do not have the                      
  funds to defend themselves with a good lawyer.                               
  MS. KNUTH said the residents of rural areas should already                   
  be making special arrangements to avoid those difficulties.                  
  Number 786                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE observed that an intoxicated person with a                       
  loaded weapon on a school ground would be just as much of a                  
  danger in rural Alaska than in urban Alaska.                                 
  REP. KOTT, referring to page 2, line 20, asked if a security                 
  guard contracted by the school for a special event would be                  
  provided for within Section 2.                                               
  MS. KNUTH said no.  She said that a police officer is a                      
  person with law enforcement authority, and a security guard                  
  does not have that authority.                                                
  CHAIR BUNDE indicated that security guards on school                         
  properties are not armed.                                                    
  MR. LUCKHAUPT said that the chief of administration could                    
  approve the possession of weapons for security guards.                       
  REP. KOTT asked about the implications if a security guard                   
  were just contracted for a weekend sporting event.                           
  MS. KNUTH, to her understanding, said that private security                  
  guards are not permitted to carry concealed weapons.                         
  Therefore, she said, the chief administrative officer of a                   
  school could permit them to carry a weapon as long as it is                  
  not concealed.                                                               
  Number 850                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY asked what was being accomplished under the                       
  proposal that is not under existing law.                                     
  CHAIR BUNDE asserted that the main thrust of the bill is the                 
  ability to search lockers, which is not available at the                     
  present time.                                                                
  REP. VEZEY asked if that was not already allowed by statute.                 
  MR. LUCKHAUPT explained that there is a certain amount of                    
  authority allowed in common law to search lockers.  Students                 
  do not have an absolute right to privacy within a school.                    
  He said the intent of the bill is to provide chief                           
  administrators of schools with statute that offers                           
  guidelines of when and how a locker can be searched.  A                      
  level of certainty would be provided for administrative                      
  officers by decreasing the risk of potential law suits.  He                  
  further stated that the search provisions of the bill do not                 
  decrease or eliminate any other rights the already exist.                    
  Number 924                                                                   
  REP. BRICE made a motion to move CSHB 417 (version O) out of                 
  committee with individual recommendations.                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE, hearing no objections, said CSHB 417 had moved                  
  out of committee.                                                            
  CHAIR BUNDE brought HB 362 to the table.                                     

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