Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/22/1996 08:25 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 338 - CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMIT AMENDMENTS The first order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was CSHB 338(STA). CHAIR JEANNETTE JAMES called on Barbara Cotting, Legislative Administrative Assistant to Representative Jeannette James, to present the proposed amendments to CSHB 338(STA). Number 0067 BARBARA COTTING, Legislative Administrative Assistant to Representative Jeannette James, read the following statement into the record. "Ignore all previous drafts and amendments! Draft Version G makes the following changes to the current statute: "Section 1 provides an affirmative defense against prosecution for misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree (possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds) by allowing a licensee to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds within a propelled vehicle, other than a school bus, as long as the defendant did not exit the propelled vehicle. "Section 2 provides an affirmative defense against prosecution for misconduct involving weapons in the fifth degree (possessing a deadly weapon where intoxicating liquor is sold for consumption on the premises) by allowing a licensee to carry a concealed handgun into a place where intoxicating liquor is sold for consumption on the premises as long as the defendant did not consume intoxicating liquor there and did not consume intoxicating liquor at any time during the previous eight hours. "It also clarifies current statute which provides an affirmative defense if the possession occurred on business premises owned or leased by the defendant or in the course of the defendant's employment for the owner or lessee of the premises. "Section 3 requires the Department of Public Safety to provide each applicant with a copy of state laws and regulations relating to concealed handguns. "Section 4 gives the Department of Public Safety a total of 30 days (instead of 15 days after receipt of background check information) to either approve or reject an application. "Section 5 amends qualifications for obtaining a permit. It returns to the original list of disqualifying misdemeanors in current statute. It also changes the residency requirement from one year to 90 days. "Section 6 changes the Department of Public Safety's requirement to provide each applicant with a copy of state laws and regulations relating to just concealed handguns (rather than relating to all firearms). "Section 7 adds a new subsection allowing an honorably retired peace officer to apply for and receive a permit within one year of retirement without having to demonstrate competency. This applies only to the initial application, not to subsequent renewals. "Section 8 adds a new section allowing the Department of Public Safety to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states. Applicants from qualifying states must meet Alaska's qualifications and pay a fee not to exceed Alaska's initial application fee. "Section 9 lowers the application fee cap to $65 and the renewal fee cap to $30. "Section 10 changes the list of places where a licensee may NOT carry a concealed handgun, to include only: 1. All places prohibited by federal law (all federal facilities and federal courts, airplanes, and some national parks). 2. State courthouses or courtrooms. 3. Residences, businesses, or meetings where notice prohibiting concealed handguns is conspicuously posted. 4. School grounds except within the licensee's vehicle. 5. Municipalities or villages that have opted out. "Section 11 changes the penalties for carrying a concealed handgun into a prohibited place. "The first offense is a violation, punishable by a fine. "The second offense is a class B misdemeanor. "The third and any subsequent offense are class A misdemeanors (two Class A misdemeanors cause revocation of the license), EXCEPT: "Section 12 adds a new subsection making it a class A misdemeanor to carry a concealed handgun in public while consuming intoxicating liquor or within eight hours after consuming an intoxicating liquor. "Section 13 repeals penalties for late renewal of a permit." Number 0454 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN asked Ms. Cotting to clarify the definition of a propelled vehicle. MS. COTTING said it was a legal definition the bill drafter came up with. Number 0468 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER explained within the definition of propelled vehicles were snowmobiles, 4-wheelers, and recreational vehicles. He further explained a motor vehicle was defined as the traditional automobile, while propelled vehicles included the others. Number 0486 MS. COTTING replied propelled vehicle was included to deal partly with the rural areas. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN replied, "I appreciate that." CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in Anchorage, Tom Clemons. Number 0529 TOM CLEMONS, Security Guard, First National Bank of Anchorage, said the bank did not support the bill as written. He said it did not want any concealed handguns in the bank. He further said the bank feared potential violence as a result of a customer service problem, for example. He also stated other financial institutions also believed they remained in the law and did not know until this morning about the changes, and asked for more time so that others could testify. Number 0648 CHAIR JAMES explained to Mr. Clemons, as the law was written, a bank could post a notice to not allow concealed handguns on its premise. Number 0664 MR. CLEMONS replied the bank understood that, but a state statute was stronger than a business policy. He said the bank liked the law as it was before the amendments. Number 0692 CHAIR JAMES explained to Mr. Clemons that the training for carrying a concealed handgun did not allow a permittee to act as a police officer, and that he was only allowed to use the deadly force as protection of himself or his family. Therefore, a permittee would be powerless to act in the event of a bank robbery, for example. Number 0734 MR. CLEMONS replied life skills and disciplines of individuals were different for everyone. He said as a former police officer and based on his experiences the discipline Chair James was referring to was not learned in a two hour period. Number 0782 CHAIR JAMES explained to Mr. Clemons that permittees felt safe carrying a concealed handgun when walking with large sums of money to a bank, and was concerned a notice would preclude them from that protection. She wondered what the permittee would do with the handgun upon entering the bank. Number 0820 MR. CLEMONS replied the bank had the same problem within the central vault area. He stated the position of the bank was that money was money and it was not worth the life of anybody. A life should not be put into jeopardy for a case of theft. A person in a bank was guaranteed some protection due to security guards, cameras, and other deterrents so a permittee could be assured that once he was in the bank there was protection. Number 0873 CHAIR JAMES replied Mr. Clemons did not understand her question. She wondered again what the permittee would do with the handgun upon entering the bank. Number 0902 MR. CLEMONS responded there was the option for the permittee to leave the handgun in his vehicle. Number 0924 CHAIR JAMES wondered about a permittee that walked to the bank. MR. CLEMONS stated there were deterrents such as surveillance cameras that protected the surrounding area of a bank. He cited the statistics indicated it was safer at a bank because of the unforeseen deterrents. He said he understood what Chair James was saying, but the banks did not want handguns brought inside and wanted a state law to assist in this endeavor. Number 0975 CHAIR JAMES explained the next committee of referral for CSHB 338(STA) was the House Judiciary Committee and suggested further testimony from Mr. Clemons and his friends when the bill was in that committee. Number 0992 MR. CLEMONS announced Mr. Arson from the National Bank of Alaska did not know the amendments to the law did not include banks, otherwise he would have been here today to testify as well as others. He suggested to Chair James to hear their testimony before moving the bill to the next committee of referral. Number 1023 CHAIR JAMES replied the House Judiciary Committee would do a fine job hearing their testimony. She said she felt comfortable moving the bill forward, if that was the decision of the House State Affairs Committee members. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Anchorage, Larry Wiget. Number 1037 LARRY WIGET, Director of Government Relations/Legislative Liaison, Anchorage School District, said the district opposed CSHB 338(STA). He cited the school district specifically opposed Section 1 that provided an affirmative defense against protection of prosecution involving weapons in the fourth degree by allowing a licensee to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds within a propelled vehicle, other than a school bus, as long as the defendant did not exit the propelled vehicle. He also cited Section 10, subsection 4 that did not allowed a concealed handgun on school grounds except within the licensee's vehicle. He said the Anchorage School District had strong policies against weapons. He cited there was no tolerance for weapons or drugs. He also cited there was a municipal ordinance that prohibited weapons on school grounds. He said this was an emotional issue for many, but for the safety of the students, the message the district wanted to send to them was weapons concealed or not were not welcome on the school grounds. Number 1106 CHAIR JAMES explained to Mr. Wiget there were 4,000 permittees that passed a stringent background check and attended classes to obtain their permit. She further explained they had a right to protect themselves while in public. Number 1126 MR. WIGET said the district recognized there were approximately 4,000 permittees. However, the district was responsible for the 47,623 students entering and exiting the school grounds throughout the day. He cited in a large high school at the beginning and at the end of the day, a large number of students were in the parking lot, and was concerned about a concealed weapon in one of the vehicles. Number 1162 CHAIR JAMES said she understood his concern, and asked what he feared from the permittees. Number 1168 MR. WIGET replied, the issue for the Anchorage School District was the safety of the students, and it did not want guns on school grounds. Number 1177 CHAIR JAMES commented the message the district was giving to the students was that guns were evil. She explained a better message to give was that guns in the wrong hands were evil. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Wrangell, Bruce Eagle. Number 1206 BRUCE EAGLE said he was a certified rifle and pistol instructor. He announced he supported CSHB 338(STA). He suggested adding that the Department of Public Safety provide an abstract in the use of deadly force for future state accountability. CHAIR JAMES agreed with Mr. Eagle regarding the abstract in the use of deadly force. She called it a good idea. She said the individuals applying for a permit knew about the use of a deadly force, but it did not hurt to enforce it and an abstract was a good idea. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Wrangell, Susan Stevens. Number 1283 SUSAN STEVENS said she was a certified rifle and pistol instructor. She announced she supported CSHB 338(STA). She especially was in favor of changing the fees. She also agreed with Mr. Eagle regarding the abstract in the use of a deadly force. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Wrangell, Glenn Smith. Number 1310 GLENN SMITH said he agreed with CSHB 338(STA). He also agreed with Mr. Eagle and Ms. Stevens that a description of the use of a deadly force should be available. He further commented that a concealed handgun on school grounds was a good way to demonstrate a law abiding citizen to the students. Number 1380 CHAIR JAMES agreed it was important to send an overall message to students about the use and evilness of guns. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Wrangell, Gary Scheff. Number 1391 GARY SCHEFF said he supported CSHB 338(STA) as written. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Wrangell, Angus Rae. Number 1405 ANGUS RAE said he supported CSHB 338(STA). He said it was cost prohibited before, over $500 for two permits. He said he and his wife took the class and it was very well done. He explained in Wrangell there were houses within a close proximity to the schools, and wondered how it was possible to tell the home owners they could not have a handgun in their home. Number 1444 CHAIR JAMES explained the fee in CSHB 338(STA) was $65. She announced there would be an amendment to raise that to $99 based on the department's needs and general fund. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Wrangell, Doug McCloaky. Number 1505 DOUG MCCLOAKY, Lt., Wrangell Police Department, stated the training renewal was excessive. He suggested a quiz, for example, and reiterated a full training course was redundant. He said he was opposed to letting a concealed handgun into a bar. He stated there was no need to mix handguns and alcohol. He further stated the message to the students should be of responsibility and personal accountability, and not that the gun was evil. Number 1581 CHAIR JAMES explained the license was good for five years. She announced she was not willing to address that issue now, but in four years it should be looked at again. Number 1608 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented the renewal training was an opportunity for a permittee to stay abreast of the laws. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via telephone in Fairbanks, Gary Roth, President, Denali State Bank. Number 1642 GARY ROTH, President, Denali State Bank, said contrary to previous testimony from the banking industry, he supported the ability of a permittee to take his firearm into his bank. He wondered if national banks and federal credit unions were included in the original bill because it addressed those banks that operated under state statutes. Nonetheless, he did not want his bank to be a target with criminals knowing no one was armed. He said he wanted a potential bank robber to think that the person standing next to him or her might be armed. He stated the permittees were honest citizens, and reiterated he did not want his bank to be a target. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness in Juneau, Lauree Hugonin, Executive Director, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Number 1784 LAUREE HUGONIN, Executive Director, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said the network was concerned about the definition of "residents." She wondered if the definition included shelter programs and safe home programs. She said a law would be stronger and urged the committee members to include them in the bill. In conclusion she wondered about creating peace and the choices to create peace. She explained peace only existed in a "we" society where the interdependence was recognized. She further said peaceful living took a lot of courage and consistent action and asked the committee members to consider that. Number 1964 CHAIR JAMES responded humans were social animals and we needed each other to survive. However, a balance was needed between collective behavior and individual behavior, while recognizing the rights of others and one's own individuality. Number 2056 MS. HUGONIN explained abusers in domestic violence situations often did not have a criminal record. Therefore, they would pass the background check to obtain a permit, and called it a mechanism for further intimidation. She cited an example whereby an abuser could simply point to his concealed handgun to intimidate the person being abused and no one would be aware of it. Number 2111 CHAIR JAMES replied, historically, that fear had not been an issue in places that already had a concealed handgun permit law. She commented fear was real and not always based on reality. She further addressed Ms. Hugonin's concerns regarding residents. She explained the bill also included businesses and if the programs or shelters did not fit a resident it would then be a business. Number 2151 MS. HUGONIN asked if that provision was in Section 10, subsection 3 or 4? CHAIR JAMES said a residence and business was ongoing and the section gave everyone the right to post a notice to prohibit a concealed handgun. Number 2190 MS. HUGONIN said she did not see where a business was listed. She stated she saw a "residence" and a "meeting of a business." CHAIR JAMES referred Ms. Hugonin to Section 10, subsection 3 and 4, and read "a residence where notice that carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited has been given by the posting of a conspicuous notice or by oral statement by the resident to the permittee; a meeting of a business, charitable, or other organization or entity where notice that carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited has been given by the posting of conspicuous notice." Number 2219 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented there might be a typo in Section 10, subsection 4. He said it probably should say "a meeting or a business, charitable, or other organization..." CHAIR JAMES replied, "I think you're right." That was the intent anyway. She suggested an amendment. CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness in Juneau, Claudia Douglas, President, National Education Association. Number 2249 CLAUDIA DOUGLAS, President, National Education Association (NEA), said the NEA opposed CSHB 338(STA) allowing a weapon on school property. She explain NEA believed the students and school employees should be safe from violence and weapons and from the threat of violence. Guns concealed or in the open had no place in school or on school grounds period, she asserted. Schools should be weapon free and havens of safety for our children and our school employees. She explained, school systems were dealing with escalating violence all over the country. There were increasing reports of students assaulting students or teachers, school vandalism, and gang violence, and the majority of these reports involved guns. It not only detracted educators from their main function of educating students, but it was a great psychological impact and economical cost to individuals and society. People young and old alike had a fascination for guns and violence and cited television shows and recent movies such as Casino, City Hall. She explained violence was a part of the fabric of our lives and our society. She said she was sure that some of the supporters of this bill would say that this was for law abiding citizens, the responsible citizen who would never hurt anybody intentionally. The reality was, however, that everyday we hear reports of accidents with guns, and she cited the man that shot a bird that flew into his house where the bullet went through two rooms and hit his wife in the kitchen. Luckily, she did not die. She stressed again guns in schools and children do not mix, and schools and school grounds must be gun free. Many communities and schools were adopting a no tolerance policy for any type of weapons, she explained. It seemed illogical and unsettling to believe that in Alaska we would allow a bill to become law that would permit guns anywhere near a school. She said she understand that this bill was an attempt to simplify the procedures for those who have permits to carry handguns and was not opposed to someone that had a permit and the process established, but was concerned about the greater problem of a society where the citizens felt a need to carry a handgun. Furthermore, another problem was enforcement. Teachers and school employees were not police, and she wondered if someone were seen or suspected of carrying a concealed weapon, was it the responsibility of the school employee to check out the permit? How would a school employee determine if someone was wearing a concealed weapon as a law abiding permittee or as someone that was violating the law, she asked? She further stated there were many gray areas in the bill concerning motorcycles, snowmobiles, and 4- wheelers. She urged the committee members to amend the CSHB 338(STA) and reestablish the prohibition of concealed weapons on school grounds. Number 2413 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved to adopt CSHB 338(STA) for consideration. Hearing no objection, it was so adopted. Number 2426 CHAIR JAMES asked for a motion to amend the fee from "$65" to "$99" in Section 9. Number 2438 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that on page 6, line 9, to amend the fee from "$65" to "$99." Hearing no objection, it was so amended. Number 2450 CHAIR JAMES explained the concern of Ms. Hugonin on page 7, line 4, concerning the language of "a meeting of a business," and asked Representative Porter for a recommendation. Number 2471 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said the intent of the subsection was to not allow a concealed handgun on the property if the business, charitable or other organization did not want it. He suggested a conceptual amendment. TAPE 96-22, SIDE B Number 0047 CHAIR JAMES suggested leaving the wordage to the drafter. She explained she would pass the new committee substitute to the committee members and if there were any concerns it could be taken- up in the House Judiciary Committee. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented there were gatherings that did not enter a building, and suggested including the words "property" and "facilities." CHAIR JAMES wondered about the lines of enforcement. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained they were at the driveway. CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any objections to the conceptual amendment. Hearing none, it was so adopted. Number 0082 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that CSHB 338(STA) move from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs Committee.