Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/18/1994 08:00 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HJR 40 - RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS                                         
  Number 470                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY opened the floor to testimony on HJR 40.                      
  Number 473                                                                   
  ROBERT KROGSENG, representing Representative Jerry Sanders,                  
  primary sponsor of HJR 40, stated that the resolution was a                  
  clarification of Article 1, Section 19, of the Constitution                  
  of the State of Alaska.  He said it is "prompted by                          
  nationwide attempts to subvert the true meaning of Article 2                 
  of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by removing the                   
  individuals' rights."  He then detailed the specific wording                 
  additions and stated that the passage of HJR 40 would result                 
  in the proposed amendment appearing on the public ballot at                  
  the next general election in conformity with Article 8,                      
  Section 1, Constitution of the State of Alaska, and the                      
  Election Laws of the State.                                                  
  Number 502                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY remarked that Justice Reinquist, U.S. Supreme                 
  Court, issued an opinion in a recent case whereby the right                  
  to bear arms was an individual right because of the use of                   
  the word "person."                                                           
  Number 514                                                                   
  ROBERT KROGSENG expressed his concerns with the changes of                   
  interpretation which have evolved over time in the                           
  constitution.  Mr. Krogseng felt clarification of terms was                  
  Number 520                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY introduced DEAN GUANELI to offer testimony.                   
  Number 525                                                                   
  DEAN GUANELI, representing the Criminal Division of the                      
  Department of Law, testified in opposition to HJR 40.  Mr.                   
  Guaneli shared other sources of opposition, such as the                      
  Department of Law, Department of Public Safety, Alaska State                 
  Troopers, and the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police.                    
  He said the Alaska State Constitution need not be amended                    
  because there was nothing wrong with the current laws.                       
  Alaska has one of the most liberal fire arms laws in the                     
  country, expressed Mr. Guaneli.  He indicated that guns can                  
  already be carried virtually anywhere in the state while in                  
  plain view, and concealed while near home or while hunting.                  
  Rather than clarification, HJR 40 merely shifts the power                    
  from the legislature to the courts to interpret the                          
  legislative history behind the right to bear arms provision                  
  of the constitution.                                                         
  MR. GUANELI warned of the court's tendency to have a                         
  difficult time judging constitutional grounds for individual                 
  rights such as the right to privacy.  He pointed out that                    
  HJR 40 may also lead the current fire arms laws, i.e.,                       
  concealed weapons, to be construed differently in the                        
  future.  Mr. Guaneli stated that SJR 1 and HJR 26 were                       
  satisfactory substitutes for HJR 40.                                         
  TAPE 94-1, SIDE B                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY again questioned Justice Reinquist's decision                 
  regarding the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and                    
  the interpretation of individual right as implied by the use                 
  of the word "person."                                                        
  MR. GUANELI said he was not familiar with the decision.                      
  Number 028                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY believed the increase of federal decisions on                 
  gun laws since 1955 has spurred the movement for revision of                 
  the constitution on the state level.                                         
  Number 053                                                                   
  In summation, MR. GUANELI believed we should not run the                     
  risk of eroding our laws by an unexpected interpretation of                  
  the Alaska constitution.                                                     
  Number 133                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT believed the Supreme Courts are more                     
  cautious about overriding laws than Mr. Guaneli expressed.                   
  Number 146                                                                   
  MR. GUANELI clarified he was relating to acts by Congress.                   
  Number 190                                                                   
  BUD WIESE, testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40.  He                  
  believed the people should make the decision based on what                   
  they want.                                                                   
  Number 205                                                                   
  LYN LEVINGOOD testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40                  
  and expressed his knowledge of the Reinquist decision which                  
  marked the right of the individual "person."  He noted the                   
  word "militia" in Alaska Statute Title 26, "which makes                      
  every man over the age of 17 a member of the militia," to                    
  endorse his belief that assault weapons are appropriate for                  
  Number 289                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if the State of Alaska has a                            
  constitutional problem with the right to bear arms.                          
  MR. LEVINGOOD believed it does, on both the federal and                      
  state level.                                                                 
  Number 363                                                                   
  GREG MACHACEK testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40                    
  because of the breakdown he has noticed in wording and the                   
  interpretation of individual rights.                                         
  Number 384                                                                   
  TED LEONARD, representing the Interior Alaska Air Boaters                    
  and the Interior Chapter of the Alaska Boaters Association,                  
  testified in favor of HJR 40.  He urged a stronger guarantee                 
  of individual rights in fear of overpowering government.                     
  Number 408                                                                   
  DAN PORTWINE testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40.                  
  Number 417                                                                   
  TOM SCARBOROUGH testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR
  40, scrutinizing the compromises offered.                                    
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned Mr. Scarborough on his                        
  perception of the overriding reason of the right to gun                      
  Number 451                                                                   
  MR. SCARBOROUGH cited the example of being called by the                     
  Governor to form a militia, and for this purpose an                          
  appropriate fire arm was necessary.                                          
  Number 468                                                                   
  BILL HAGER testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40.  He                  
  believed we as a people have the power of the country vested                 
  in ourselves.  He also believed we need to reestablish the                   
  value of the state constitution.                                             
  Number 497                                                                   
  JIM ROLAND stated his support for HJR 40 via teleconference                  
  from Fairbanks.                                                              
  Number 504                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY deferred further committee action on HJR 40                   
  until prime sponsor Representative Sanders could be present.                 
  Number 513                                                                   
  C.E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of                   
  Public Safety, testified that the department was against HJR
  40.  Offering SJR 1 as a substitute due to it's compromising                 
  language, MR. SWACKHAMMER explained that the Alaska                          
  Association of Chiefs of Police would drop their opposition                  
  to the change in current laws if they were assured this                      
  Number 531                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned Mr. Swackhammer if he                         
  believed the courts would outlaw gun ownership in the                        
  Number 536                                                                   
  MR. SWACKHAMMER believed it would not.  He stated his main                   
  concern was expressed the misinterpretation of the written                   
  law if HJR 40 passed, and the competing weight of public                     
  policy versus individual rights.  He also noted the diverse                  
  size and location of communities within Alaska and the                       
  varying legal needs corresponding to these areas.                            
  Number 553                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if Mr. Swackhammer thought it was                  
  reasonable for a person to own a gun.                                        
  Number 554                                                                   
  MR. SWACKHAMMER replied yes.                                                 
  Number 555                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked what Mr. Swackhammer felt the                      
  citizens' main concerns were; i.e., self-protection.                         
  Number 564                                                                   
  MR. SWACKHAMMER explained that federal level was more of a                   
  threat than the state level; i.e., the Brady Bill.                           
  Number 581                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT requested the percentage of gun                          
  ownership in Alaska.                                                         
  Number 584                                                                   
  Not knowing exact figures, MR. SWACKHAMMER responded that                    
  Alaska has a fairly high percentage due to lifestyle.                        
  Number 596                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT wondered if the number of police                         
  officers in Alaska, 1 per 100,000, could be a factor in the                  
  whole breakdown of the citizen trust in the current laws.                    
  Number 605                                                                   
  MR. SWACKHAMMER reiterated it was Alaska's lifestyle, not a                  
  fear from crime.                                                             
  Number 614                                                                   
  ARNOLD BUCKMEYER testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR
  Number 627                                                                   
  BUZZ OTIS testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40 and                  
  asked members to focus on the penal system as the cause for                  
  high crime rates, and not guns.                                              
  Number 644                                                                   
  LEROY WIEDEMAN testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40                 
  and stressed that citizens need self-protection and the                      
  ability to have a balance of power.                                          
  TAPE 94-2, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE HARLEY OLBERG expressed his belief that                       
  courts are not the solution, they are the problem.  He said                  
  that with all the choices at hand, however, he would take                    
  his chances with HJR 40.                                                     
  Number 020                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY replied "no piece of paper, constitution or                   
  otherwise, can take the place of vigilance."                                 
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY announced that HJR 40 would be held in                        
  committee until a time uncertain.                                            
  Seeing no further business before the committee, CHAIRMAN                    
  VEZEY adjourned the meeting at 9:32 a.m.                                     

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