Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/01/2002 01:50 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 346 - CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITTEES                                                                                         
[Contains brief  reference to  SB 242, the  companion bill  to HB
Number 2140                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ROKEBERG  announced that the  last order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 346,  "An Act  relating to  concealed handgun                                                               
Number 2110                                                                                                                     
JENNIFER  YUHAS, Staff  to Representative  Beverly Masek,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  sponsor, explained  on behalf of  the sponsor                                                               
that  HB  346 was  introduced  in  response  to inaction  by  the                                                               
Department  of  Public Safety  (DPS)  to  recognize other  states                                                               
under Alaska's "concealed-carry" laws.   In response to questions                                                               
she noted that HB  346 is the companion bill to  SB 242, and that                                                               
although  amendments  were offered  for  SB  242, it  passed  the                                                               
Senate unamended.                                                                                                               
Number 2051                                                                                                                     
BRIAN  JUDY,  Alaska  State Liaison,  Institute  for  Legislative                                                               
Action, National  Rifle Association  of America  (NRA), testified                                                               
via teleconference in support of HB 346.  He said:                                                                              
     In 1994 the Department  of Public Safety disseminated a                                                                    
     white  paper  on  the  original  "conceal-permit"  law,                                                                    
     [which] was  HB 351, by Representative  Jeanette James.                                                                    
     The paper was  entitled "To Conceal or  Not to Conceal,                                                                    
     That is the  Question," and it was  full of suggestions                                                                    
     and  predictions  that  there  would be  more  guns  at                                                                    
     grocery  stores, on  ball fields;  fender-benders would                                                                    
     become shootouts.   And in fact it was the  same set of                                                                    
     warnings that  we heard in  every other state  that had                                                                    
     considered "right-to-carry" legislation.                                                                                   
     ... Interestingly, the Department  of Public Safety has                                                                    
     acknowledged,  in hearings  on  this  bill, [that]  the                                                                    
     outcome in Alaska has been,  in fact, the same as every                                                                    
     other  state:   There have  been virtually  no problems                                                                    
     caused  by  concealed-weapon   permit  holders  in  any                                                                    
     state.    ...  This  is a  very  important  point;  the                                                                    
     empirical  evidence  from  every  state  that's  issued                                                                    
     permits, regardless  of the  level of  qualification or                                                                    
     training standards, is the  same:  Law-abiding citizens                                                                    
     who  have   been  issued  right-to-carry   permits  are                                                                    
     exercising their constitutional right  to bear arms and                                                                    
     their  natural right  to  defend  themselves, with  the                                                                    
     utmost responsibility.                                                                                                     
     ...  The major  concern that  we've heard  expressed to                                                                    
     this  bill is  that it's  going to  cause the  State of                                                                    
     Alaska to  have to recognize permits  from other states                                                                    
     that may  not have qualification or  issuance standards                                                                    
     quite to the level [of]  Alaska.  There are some states                                                                    
     with  tougher standards,  there  are  some states  with                                                                    
     standards that aren't as strict  as Alaska, but, again,                                                                    
     the important point is that  the evidence from everyone                                                                    
     in  these states  is the  same,  and that  is that  the                                                                    
     permittees are handling themselves responsibly.                                                                            
Number 1962                                                                                                                     
     Self-defense is  a fundamental right, and  the right of                                                                    
     self-defense  does not  and should  not  stop at  state                                                                    
     borders.   As  with  driver's licenses,  right-to-carry                                                                    
     permits  should be  honored universally.   And  in fact                                                                    
     studies  have shown  that crime  rates  drop when  law-                                                                    
     abiding citizens  have the means  to provide  for their                                                                    
     own self-protection  and when criminals then  know that                                                                    
     their  next potential  victim might  have the  means to                                                                    
     fight back.                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY continued:                                                                                                             
     In  1998, SB  141 first  recognized permits  from other                                                                    
     states,  and,  interestingly,  the same  concerns  were                                                                    
     raised, that we  were going to have  people coming into                                                                    
     the  state and  we were  going to  have problems.   But                                                                    
     they did not materialize.   In 2000, Senator Taylor had                                                                    
     a  bill -  SB 294  - that  clarified and  broadened the                                                                    
     number of states that Alaska  would recognize.  And for                                                                    
     that  bill there  was little  or no  opposition; people                                                                    
     were  finally understanding  that these  people weren't                                                                    
     going  to be  a problem.   Unfortunately,  in the  last                                                                    
     couple of  years, the Department  of Public  Safety has                                                                    
     been unable to provide  a complete and accurate listing                                                                    
     of all the states which Alaska recognizes.                                                                                 
     It's also a concern of  ours that the web site postings                                                                    
     that  they  do  provide   -  the  incomplete  web  site                                                                    
     postings  - [don't]  necessarily  give the  information                                                                    
     out,  as  they're  required  to  do,  to  all  the  law                                                                    
     enforcement  agencies   in  the  state.     And  that's                                                                    
     important because all the  law enforcement officers out                                                                    
     there  throughout Alaska  need  to  know which  states'                                                                    
     permits are  valid in  Alaska so  they can  enforce the                                                                    
     laws.  So this  bill - HB 346 - and  its companion - SB
     242,  which is  coming  over from  the  Senate -  would                                                                    
     simply  recognize  all  other   states'  permits.    It                                                                    
     relieves the Department of Public  Safety of the burden                                                                    
     of having to  evaluate all the other  states' laws, and                                                                    
     it will  effectively notify  all local  law enforcement                                                                    
     agencies in the  state that permits from  any state are                                                                    
Number 1866                                                                                                                     
MR. JUDY also said:                                                                                                             
     Again,  regarding  the concern  that  such  a law  will                                                                    
     require Alaska  to recognize  permits from  states with                                                                    
     lower standards,  there are 50  states out  there; [43]                                                                    
     of  them ...  issue permits  to law-abiding  citizens -                                                                    
     some are  mandatory issue and some  are discretionary -                                                                    
     but every one  of those state laws is  different.  Some                                                                    
     are tougher, some are not  as tough, but the consistent                                                                    
     feature  in  every state  is  that  permit holders  are                                                                    
     exercising  their rights  responsibly.    The State  of                                                                    
     Alaska   should  not   have   any  reservations   about                                                                    
     welcoming the law-abiding citizens  of other states and                                                                    
     honoring their permits.                                                                                                    
     One last point I want to make.   If you go back to that                                                                    
     1994  white  paper,  the Department  of  Public  Safety                                                                    
     pointed out  then, rightfully, that all  Alaskan's have                                                                    
     a right to  carry openly in Alaska.  In  fact, all law-                                                                    
     abiding citizens,  whether they're Alaskans  or whether                                                                    
     they are  visiting the state,  have the right  to carry                                                                    
     openly in Alaska.  So what  this bill really does is --                                                                    
     it  make  sense because  anybody  can  carry in  Alaska                                                                    
     openly;  this  gives  that   small  percentage  of  the                                                                    
     population out there that's  gone through their state's                                                                    
     process  to  be  licensed   to  carry  concealed,  [the                                                                    
     ability] to  carry concealed  in Alaska.   ...  The NRA                                                                    
     obviously  urges your  support  for this  bill, and  if                                                                    
     there are any questions, I'd be happy to respond.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  asked:    What happens  with  anyone  from                                                               
Vermont,  for  example, where  they're  not  required to  have  a                                                               
permit to carry concealed; how is reciprocity handled then?                                                                     
MR. JUDY  opined that  if [HB  346/SB 242]  became law,  it would                                                               
only recognize  people who have  permits issued by  other states.                                                               
Therefore, anybody  from Vermont  would not be  able to  carry in                                                               
Alaska since Vermont does not issue permits.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   JAMES  asked   whether  Alaskan's   could  carry                                                               
concealed in Vermont.                                                                                                           
MR.  JUDY said  yes.   He relayed  that the  way the  Vermont law                                                               
reads  is  that  any  law-abiding citizen  can  carry  a  firearm                                                               
openly,  concealed,  loaded, or  unloaded;  "you  do not  need  a                                                               
permit to  carry in  Vermont."  Regardless  of what  state people                                                               
are from  - as long  as they  are law-abiding citizens  and don't                                                               
have any  criminal intent that could  later be proven -  they can                                                               
carry lawfully in the state of Vermont, any way they choose.                                                                    
Number 1735                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ,   after  noting  that  Mr.   Judy  had                                                               
indicated  that the  state's web  site  was inaccurate  regarding                                                               
reciprocity, mentioned that he "had it  in front" of him and that                                                               
it  lists 11  states for  which Alaska  recognizes valid  handgun                                                               
permits.   He asked Mr.  Judy to  tell him what  the inaccuracies                                                               
MR.  JUDY clarified:   "If  I said  it's inaccurate,  I misspoke;                                                               
what I mean is  that it is incomplete."  He  added that there are                                                               
somewhere in  the ballpark of 25  states.  In fact,  he recalled,                                                               
the DPS  testified in the  [Senate Judiciary  Standing Committee]                                                               
that  there  are  25  states' permits  which  are  recognized  in                                                               
Alaska.   Therefore, by  listing only  11, 4 or  5 of  which were                                                               
only  added  [within the  last  two  weeks  since HB  346/SB  242                                                               
started  moving],   the  web  site  is   not  providing  complete                                                               
information  to  all  the  law  enforcement  agencies  out  there                                                               
regarding which states' permits are valid in Alaska.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  relayed that  one of the  concerns that                                                               
he has is not a subject-matter  concern but is instead "a state's                                                               
rights" concern.  He elaborated:                                                                                                
     If Alaska  sets standards,  on this  subject or  on any                                                                    
     other  subject,  it   seems  to  me  that   we  have  a                                                                    
     responsibility to  ensure that  visitors to  this state                                                                    
     comply  with  those  standards.     You  mentioned  the                                                                    
     driver's licenses; I don't know  exactly, but I believe                                                                    
     there is  some national  legislation about  [a] uniform                                                                    
     driver's licenses  Act, and  it just  seems to  me that                                                                    
     there's  a  "state's  rights"   concern  here  that  we                                                                    
     shouldn't quickly run past.                                                                                                
MR. JUDY  suggested that  that is the  policy question  raised by                                                               
[HB  346/SB 242].   He  pointed out,  however, that  anybody from                                                               
another  state who  carries  - either  openly,  as allowed  under                                                               
existing Alaska  law, or concealed,  as allowed for  some states'                                                               
citizens because  of reciprocity  - is  still required  to comply                                                               
with Alaska's laws.  Therefore,  he opined, the only change would                                                               
be that the  permits of some states that may  not have concealed-                                                               
weapons-permits-issuance criteria as strict  as Alaska's would be                                                               
valid after  the passage  of [HB 346/SB  242].   Additionally, he                                                               
made  the claim  that permits  from some  states which  currently                                                               
have issuance  criteria that  are not as  strict as  Alaska's are                                                               
recognized as valid by virtue of  [a portion of the current law],                                                               
which says that  if another state's permits are  valid in Alaska,                                                               
then Alaska will recognize those  permits.  He surmised that that                                                               
is why  some states are  listed on the  DPS web site  even though                                                               
their issuance criteria are not as strict as those of Alaska.                                                                   
Number 1565                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked whether  [HB 346/SB 242] would require                                                               
someone  who had  a valid  permit from  another state  to replace                                                               
that permit with an Alaska permit if he/she moved to Alaska.                                                                    
MR.  JUDY noted  that [HB  346/SB 242]  would delete  the 120-day                                                               
limitation;  thus, if  somebody  moved to  Alaska  and became  an                                                               
Alaskan  resident,  the  permit  from  his/her  former  state  of                                                               
residence would be valid in Alaska  until it expired.  After that                                                               
permit  expired,  if that  person  wanted  to continue  to  carry                                                               
concealed,  then  he/she  would  be required  to  apply  for  and                                                               
receive an Alaskan permit.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  noted that  persons  who  come to  the                                                               
state  "with  the  intent  to remain  and  gain  employment"  are                                                               
required, within  90 days,  to get  a new  driver's license.   He                                                               
asked  Mr.  Judy whether  he  recommends  a different  scheme  as                                                               
appropriate for a concealed-carry permit.                                                                                       
MR. JUDY said it  would be a bit different if  HB 346 became law.                                                               
He informed the  committee that there are 25-30  states that have                                                               
laws that recognize  permits from other states.   Currently, only                                                               
Alaska,  at   120  days,  and   Utah,  at  60  days,   have  time                                                               
limitations.   If [HB  346/SB 242]  becomes law  as it  is, Texas                                                               
would  recognize Alaska's  law.   However, Texas  currently won't                                                               
enter  into  an   agreement  with  Alaska  due   to  the  120-day                                                               
CHAIR ROKEBERG  inquired as  to whether that  meant that  a Texan                                                               
could come  to Alaska, establish  residency, and use  their Texas                                                               
permit for infinity.                                                                                                            
MR. JUDY  answered that if  [HB 346/SB  242] became law,  a Texan                                                               
with a Texas concealed handgun permit  could carry in Alaska.  If                                                               
that Texan decided  to stay in Alaska, that  Texan's permit would                                                               
be valid  until it expired.   In response to Chair  Rokeberg, Mr.                                                               
Judy confirmed that  permits in Texas do have an  expiration.  He                                                               
recalled that  the longest  permit available  is for  five years.                                                               
Mr. Judy explained that if a  person who had obtained a five-year                                                               
permit moved to  Alaska, then that permit would be  good for five                                                               
years.   However, he felt that  such a situation would  be highly                                                               
unlikely.  Even  if such a case happened, the  permit holders are                                                               
responsible  individuals.    People  going  through  this  permit                                                               
process, regardless of  the state and issuance  criteria, are not                                                               
causing problems.                                                                                                               
Number 1321                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ noted that  the permit holders should be                                                               
protected as  well.   The more knowledge  there is  regarding who                                                               
has concealed handgun  permits - whether the person  is a visitor                                                               
or not - the more safety  would be provided for concealed handgun                                                               
permit holders.                                                                                                                 
MR. JUDY  referred to the "Uniform  Crime Report" put out  by the                                                               
Federal Bureau  of Investigations  (FBI), which  illustrates that                                                               
the  states with  most lenient  gun  laws have  the lowest  crime                                                               
rate.   He  recalled  that  the State  of  Vermont, which  allows                                                               
anyone to  carry any time, at  any location, ranks 49th  in crime                                                               
[statistics in the  United States].  The  people causing problems                                                               
aren't those  that go  through the process  and are  issued these                                                               
concealed-carry permits.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ commented  that that  isn't his  point,                                                               
although he  tended to  agree with the  numbers mentioned  by Mr.                                                               
Judy.   However,  he said,  he feels  that there  should be  some                                                               
protection afforded  to those with  concealed-carry permits.   He                                                               
questioned whether  opening [the  statutes] as  wide as  Mr. Judy                                                               
suggests would afford that level of protection.                                                                                 
MR.  JUDY said  that  he didn't  understand  what problem  permit                                                               
holders would  face if  [the statutes] were  opened up;  it would                                                               
[merely] allow them to carry.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  announced that she  is a permit  holder and                                                               
isn't afraid of  anyone that enters the state  with a [concealed-                                                               
carry] permit.                                                                                                                  
Number 1180                                                                                                                     
JESSE  VANDERZANDEN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Outdoor Council                                                               
(AOC), testified  via teleconference  in support of  HB 346.   He                                                               
informed  the committee  that the  AOC  is composed  of about  50                                                               
outdoor clubs  as well as individual  members.  At least  a dozen                                                               
of those clubs are gun-oriented.   There are several members that                                                               
teach concealed-carry  classes and have  concealed-carry permits.                                                               
Many of those folks have called  AOC in support of HB 346 without                                                               
solicitation from the AOC.                                                                                                      
Number 1077                                                                                                                     
DEL  SMITH,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Public  Safety                                                               
(DPS), began by  noting that although HB 346  would lighten DPS's                                                               
workload, he  wasn't sure what  [HB 346]  does for Alaskans.   He                                                               
questioned whether it's  good public policy to  allow everyone to                                                               
come  to Alaska  [with  a  concealed-carry permit]  indefinitely.                                                               
Conceivably,  someone  from  Texas  or elsewhere  could  come  to                                                               
Alaska and  carry a  concealed gun for  five years  without being                                                               
required to obtain an Alaskan permit.                                                                                           
MR.  SMITH, in  response  to Chair  Rokeberg,  specified that  11                                                               
[states] have [reciprocity]  and three [states] are  pending.  He                                                               
confirmed  that he  is  in the  process  of officially  verifying                                                               
[which states have reciprocity agreements].                                                                                     
Number 0965                                                                                                                     
PATTY  OWEN,  Alaska Chapter,  Million  Mom  March, informed  the                                                               
committee that  the Million  Mom March  is a  national grassroots                                                               
organization for  commonsense gun laws  and safe kids.   Ms. Owen                                                               
expressed  her fear  that [HB  346] weakens  the concealed-weapon                                                               
law, as  well as all other  gun-safety laws, to an  all-time low.                                                               
[This legislation would] allow others  to come into the state who                                                               
haven't met  Alaska's training  or fingerprinting  standards, and                                                               
who could conceivably  be teenagers.  She noted  that current law                                                               
requires a  person to  be 21  before being  issued a  permit, and                                                               
opined that  HB 342  appears to repeal  that portion  of statute.                                                               
Furthermore, the lack of a  time limit regarding when someone has                                                               
to apply for an Alaskan permit appears to be a big loophole.                                                                    
MS. OWEN posited  that allowing other people to  come into Alaska                                                               
and carry  concealed weapons, regardless of  whether their states                                                               
have  lower   standards,  would,   in  effect,   weaken  Alaska's                                                               
standards.  She  stated that she did not care  whether passage of                                                               
[HB 346] lightens the DPS's workload.   "I am a concerned citizen                                                               
and I feel like  they should be doing their job,  and its not the                                                               
right  answer to  repeal good  safety  laws just  to lighten  the                                                               
load; so I  would just encourage some patience  with what they're                                                               
doing, and  [encourage] upholding Alaska's standards,"  she said.                                                               
It doesn't  benefit Alaskan  permit holders  when they  travel to                                                               
other  states; they  still depend  on the  laws of  other states.                                                               
Therefore,  she   suggested,  HB  346  would   only  benefit  the                                                               
newcomers to Alaska who have permits from other states.                                                                         
Number 0796                                                                                                                     
LAUREE HUGONIN,  Executive Director,  Alaska Network  on Domestic                                                               
Violence &  Sexual Assault  (ANDVSA), in an  effort to  clarify a                                                               
couple of points, said:                                                                                                         
     As  many  of  you  know,   we  are  not  proponents  of                                                                    
     concealed-carry  but we  understand the  reality as  we                                                                    
     have it  here.  But there  are two things that  I would                                                                    
     like to clarify.  One  is that sexual assault in Alaska                                                                    
     has not  gone down  since people  have been  allowed to                                                                    
     carry   concealed    weapons   here.       We   remain,                                                                    
     unfortunately,  in  the  top five  per  capita  in  the                                                                    
     nation  in sexual  assault,  and  we vacillate  between                                                                    
     number  one and  number 2;  I think  maybe once  in the                                                                    
     last ten  years we  made it down  to number  three, but                                                                    
     it's  not  crime that  carrying  concealed  has had  an                                                                    
     impact on.                                                                                                                 
     There's a  study on the  NRA's web site that  does show                                                                    
     several crimes  where that  may have  had some  kind of                                                                    
     impact in other states, and  for sexual assault it only                                                                    
     says a  3 percent reduction,  but it didn't  really say                                                                    
     how  that percentage  was derived;  but that's  not the                                                                    
     case  here.   [There also  seems to  be a]  notion that                                                                    
     hidden  weapons [gives]  offenders some  kind of  pause                                                                    
     about whether  or not to  commit the crime.   In sexual                                                                    
     assault, most  often, offenders  know their  victims so                                                                    
     they're  going  to know  whether  or  not they  have  a                                                                    
     concealed-carry permit; they're  probably going to know                                                                    
     whether or  not a person has  a weapon on them,  and so                                                                    
     that's not really going to be a deterrent effect.                                                                          
     And then the  second point was ...  about [the argument                                                                    
     that] "well everybody can carry  open."  Well, okay; if                                                                    
     you carry a  [weapon openly], I can see it,  I can make                                                                    
     a  decision  about whether  or  not  I  want to  be  in                                                                    
     proximity to you  and that weapon.   If you're carrying                                                                    
     concealed, I don't  have that option.  So  I would just                                                                    
     ask you  to consider  thoughtfully what  you're passing                                                                    
     through, and  to take into account  that not everything                                                                    
     that's said with  statistics is true for  Alaska, as it                                                                    
     might be  true in other  parts of the nation,  and that                                                                    
     you would thoughtfully consider  whether or not to move                                                                    
     the bill from the committee.  Thank you.                                                                                   
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  asked  whether   there  have  been  any  studies                                                               
regarding the percentages of sexual  assault in relation to rural                                                               
and urban areas of Alaska.                                                                                                      
Number 0604                                                                                                                     
MS. HUGONIN  asked whether he  was referring  to how many  of the                                                               
total  number of  sexual assaults  might have  been committed  in                                                               
rural areas.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ROKEBERG:  Well, like a per capita incidence rate."                                                                       
MS. HUGONIN said not that she  is aware of, adding that she would                                                               
research the issue.                                                                                                             
CHAIR ROKEBERG announced that HB 346  would be held over and that                                                               
the committee would probably take up SB 242.                                                                                    
MS.  YUHAS,   on  Representative  Berkowitz's   driver's  license                                                               
analogy, offered  the comment that  "driving is a  privilege that                                                               
we issue a permit for, [whereas]  the right to carry a firearm is                                                               
[a]  constitutionally  guaranteed  right  [that]  the  state  has                                                               
chosen to regulate."                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said, "Not concealed."                                                                                 
MS. YUHAS replied  that the right to  carry a weapon at  all is a                                                               
constitutionally guaranteed right, whereas driving is not.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ argued that  carrying concealed is not a                                                               
constitutional  right, and  that  the state  has  the ability  to                                                               
regulate it.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ROKEBERG  asked how long an  Alaskan concealed-carry permit                                                               
MS. YUHAS said five years.   She noted that the DPS has suggested                                                               
that HB  346 might be just  for people traveling to  Alaska, and,                                                               
in response,  she pointed  out that there  are other  states that                                                               
will not  grant reciprocity if  their permits are not  honored in                                                               
Alaska.   Therefore, she offered,  this bill is  specifically for                                                               
Alaskans so  that they are  able to  travel to other  states with                                                               
peace of mind, particularly in light of terroristic threats.                                                                    
[HB 346 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects