Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/21/2002 08:02 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 346-CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITTEES                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0520                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  announced the next  order of business,  HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO. 346, "An Act relating to concealed handgun permittees."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL called a brief at-ease  at 8:07 a.m.  He called the                                                               
meeting back to order at 8:09 a.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0545                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  YUHAS, Staff  to Representative  Beverly Masek,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  testified on behalf of  Representative Masek,                                                               
sponsor of HB 346.  She read from the sponsor statement:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     A statutory  revision is needed to  further clarify the                                                                    
     recognition  of concealed  handgun  permits from  other                                                                    
     states.   The 21st  legislature passed ...  Senate Bill                                                                    
     294,  which provides  for the  recognition of  permits:                                                                    
     (1) from  the states  with permit  requirements similar                                                                    
     to  Alaska;   and  (2)  from  states   which  recognize                                                                    
     Alaska's permits.   Senate Bill  294 also  directed the                                                                    
     Department of  Public Safety to determine  which states                                                                    
     and political subdivisions  grant reciprocity to Alaska                                                                    
     permit  holders and  distribute  the list  to each  law                                                                    
     enforcement agency  in this state.   The department has                                                                    
     yet  to  fully  implement this  statutory  requirement,                                                                    
     some 16 months later.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     This legislation  will simplify the process  by plainly                                                                    
     recognizing all permits issued by  other states.  In so                                                                    
     doing,  the  burden  on the  department  of  having  to                                                                    
     evaluate all the other state's  laws to determine which                                                                    
     ones  recognize Alaska's  permits and  the subjectivity                                                                    
     on  the part  of  the department  in determining  which                                                                    
     other states'  statutes are similar to  Alaska law will                                                                    
       be removed.  House Bill 346 will better serve the                                                                        
     public and permit holders.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. YUHAS noted  that Brian Judy was available  from the National                                                               
Rifle Association (NRA) to  testify regarding statutory revisions                                                               
and impacts.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0773                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JULIA GRIMES, Lieutenant, Division  Operations Unit, Alaska State                                                               
Troopers,  testified  via teleconference.    She  noted that  the                                                               
proposed  legislation doesn't  specify a  time period  similar to                                                               
that  imposed  for  vehicle registration  and  driver  licensing,                                                               
after which  a person would  be required  to apply for  an Alaska                                                               
permit.  She said current  statute provides for a 120-day period,                                                               
after which out-of-state  permit holders who are  in Alaska would                                                               
be required to obtain an Alaska permit.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS  GRIMES  indicated  a  concern  that  the  legislation,  while                                                               
allowing permit holders  from other states to come  up to Alaska,                                                               
does not back  its Alaska permit holders.   She mentioned efforts                                                               
made to get reciprocity for  Alaska permit holders to go Outside,                                                               
but acknowledged  that the  legislation doesn't  necessarily help                                                               
with that.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0899                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. GRIMES  offered an update  regarding reciprocity.   She said,                                                               
"We now have 11  states listed on our web site  that offer what I                                                               
will call  'true reciprocity,' and  that's based on  the statute,                                                               
paragraph  (2),  that if  they  recognize  our permits,  we  will                                                               
recognize their  permits."  She called  Georgia, Connecticut, and                                                               
Indiana  "reciprocity-able"  -  once those  states  give  written                                                               
confirmation of  an agreement, they  will be included on  the web                                                               
site list.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  GRIMES  indicated there  are  ten  states, under  "paragraph                                                               
(1),"  whose permits  [Alaska] will  honor; however,  because the                                                               
requirements  of   their  permit   programs  are   dissimilar  to                                                               
Alaska's, true reciprocity  is not currently possible.   She said                                                               
she is in the process of  changing that limitation.  She told the                                                               
committee  this  is  an  ongoing process,  because  the  laws  in                                                               
various states change frequently.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1034                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. GRIMES  named the  following difficulties  regarding attempts                                                               
to provided reciprocity:   some states have  no concealed handgun                                                               
permit  programs, and  two states,  to her  belief, cannot  abide                                                               
Alaska's 120-day rule because their own limits are much shorter.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL asked:  "Is that 2  out of the 25 possible that are                                                               
similar?"                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. GRIMES  answered yes.  She  said New Hampshire is  one of the                                                               
states that had a problem with the 120-day limit.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL related  his understanding, then, that  at least 23                                                               
states are similar, although the list only contains 11 states.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  GRIMES agreed,  but pointed  out that  paragraph (1),  which                                                               
lists  the similar  requirements, merely  says Alaska  will honor                                                               
permits  from  other states  that  are  similar.   However,  that                                                               
paragraph  doesn't provide  for  those states  to honor  Alaska's                                                               
permittees in  the other state.   Therefore, she  reiterated that                                                               
she has been negotiating in  regard to whether these states could                                                               
offer  Alaska's  permittees  reciprocity.   Under  paragraph  (2)                                                               
there is true reciprocity.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL asked if there  has been some notification to these                                                               
other states in regard to Alaska's qualifications.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. GRIMES answered yes.   She explained that although all states                                                               
have  been   contacted,  not  all  have   returned  the  contact.                                                               
Furthermore,  letters have  been sent  to Arkansas  and Louisiana                                                               
because  there   has  been  indication  that   reciprocity  could                                                               
probably be arranged through a  letter to the attorney general or                                                               
department of public safety in  those states.  The possibility of                                                               
reciprocity from quite a few states is pending.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  related  his understanding,  then,  that  HB  346                                                               
merely recognizes the  permits from other states  and thus allows                                                               
those permittees to carry [concealed handguns] in Alaska.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. GRIMES  agreed.   In further response  to Chair  Coghill, Ms.                                                               
Grimes agreed  that those permit  holders from other  states have                                                               
gone  through that  state's  requirements  for a  concealed-carry                                                               
permit.   She  specified that  permit holders  from other  states                                                               
have been subject to only  their state's background requirements.                                                               
She related  her belief that almost  all of the states  have some                                                               
background check.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL commented,  "I think  we're talking  about a  very                                                               
safe  segment of  society here."   He  further commented  that he                                                               
believes this refers to a small segment of society.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. GRIMES agreed.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1469                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PATTY  OWEN,  Alaska Chapter,  Million  Mom  March, informed  the                                                               
committee   that  the   Million   Mom  March   is  a   grassroots                                                               
organization  that  advocates  for  sensible gun  laws  and  safe                                                               
children.   The Million  Mom March has  recently united  with the                                                               
National  Brady Campaign,  which recently  released report  cards                                                               
for safe  gun laws  and assigned  Alaska a  "D-minus."   Ms. Owen                                                               
expressed her  fear that HB  346 will bring Alaska's  rating down                                                               
to an all-time low.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OWENS said  it  appears  HB 346  eliminates  all the  safety                                                               
standards  that   were  kept  as  safeguards   for  dealing  with                                                               
reciprocity of  permits for concealed weapons  from other states.                                                               
Therefore,  she expressed  concern that  [HB 346]  would make  it                                                               
easier for strangers or nonresidents  with unknown backgrounds to                                                               
carry   guns  in   Alaska.     Although  she   acknowledged  that                                                               
negotiations  are  taking   place  regarding  standardization  of                                                               
training and background checks, Ms.  Owen said she didn't get the                                                               
feeling those  were in place.   She concluded, "I just  think the                                                               
impatience here  isn't worth throwing everything  out the window.                                                               
... I  would hope that  Alaska -  the Alaska legislature  - would                                                               
want to  be in control  of its own  laws and  not leave it  up to                                                               
other states to set those standards for us."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON inquired as to the rating of other states.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  OWEN  said  she  could   provide  the  committee  with  that                                                               
information, and  noted that  there are  some states  with higher                                                               
ratings and others  with lower ratings.  She  specified that this                                                               
rating is  not only in  reference to the concealed  handgun laws,                                                               
but to other laws as well.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1648                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE  inquired  as  to the  criteria  the  rating                                                               
system uses.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. OWEN  replied that some of  the [areas reviewed] are  the age                                                               
at  which  a firearm  can  be  purchased  and  the age  at  which                                                               
juveniles  can  be in  possession  of  a  firearm.   The  [rating                                                               
system] places heavy emphasis on  the safety of children, such as                                                               
[the  requirement that]  guns  which are  sold  must have  safety                                                               
locks.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  asked if the  criteria include  the injuries                                                               
or fatalities of youth.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. OWEN replied no.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL surmised  that  part of  the  Million Mom  March's                                                               
[goal] is to promote gun control at many levels.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. OWEN clarified that  the organization [promotes] common-sense                                                               
gun laws.  "It's not to  take away people's rights to have guns,"                                                               
she specified.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1753                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  if [the  rating system]  takes into                                                               
consideration the fact that Alaskans carry guns for safety.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. OWEN said she would have to show the committee the criteria.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL asked if Ms. Owen had a concealed-carry permit.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. OWEN replied  no.  In further response to  Chair Coghill, Ms.                                                               
Owen said  she had a  basic understanding of  [the requirements],                                                               
although she  recognized that there  have been changes  since the                                                               
law's inception.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  remarked that by  the time an individual  has gone                                                               
through screening, the individual is fairly well known.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. OWEN  said she understood that,  which is why she  would want                                                               
Alaska to maintain  its standard rather than  allow another state                                                               
to dictate those criteria.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1860                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BRIAN  JUDY, Northwestern  Government  Affairs Manager,  National                                                               
Rifle Association  (NRA), began  by informing the  committee that                                                               
in  1994 the  Department of  Public Safety  (DPS) issued  a white                                                               
paper  entitled  "To Conceal  or  Not  to  Conceal, That  is  the                                                               
Question,"   in   response   to   the   original   right-to-carry                                                               
legislation.   That  [report] was  full  of alarmist  suggestions                                                               
that  there would  be more  guns at  grocery stores  and on  ball                                                               
fields, and  that fender-benders  would become shootouts.   These                                                               
were  the same  warnings  heard  in every  other  state that  has                                                               
passed concealed-carry legislation.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JUDY  noted  that  DPS, during  a  recent  Senate  Judiciary                                                               
Committee hearing, said  there haven't been any  problems, as has                                                               
been the  case in every other  state, regardless of the  level of                                                               
qualification and training  standards.  The outcome  is that law-                                                               
abiding  citizens   becoming  licensed  by  the   government  are                                                               
exercising  their constitutional  right  to bear  arms and  their                                                               
natural   right   to   defend    themselves   with   the   utmost                                                               
responsibility.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY commented that self-defense  is a fundamental right that                                                               
doesn't stop  at state borders.   Just as people have  a driver's                                                               
license,  right-to-carry  permit  holders should  be  allowed  to                                                               
carry a firearm for self-defense  during travel.  He said studies                                                               
have shown that  crime rates drop when  law-abiding citizens have                                                               
the  means  to  provide  self-defense   and  are  able  to  carry                                                               
firearms.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2015                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY said  the newly named National  Brady Campaign, formerly                                                               
named Handgun  Control, Inc.,  is attempting  to ban  handguns in                                                               
other  states.   He  announced that  banning  handguns in  Alaska                                                               
won't be  attempted in Alaska yet.   In regard to  the ratings of                                                               
the states, Mr.  Judy said those ratings don't  take into account                                                               
statistics  relating to  death and  crime, and  that most  states                                                               
receiving  "D-minus"  and  "F"  have  extraordinarily  low  crime                                                               
rates.   He surmised  that those  states receiving  "D-minus" and                                                               
"F" would receive  "A-plus" when ranked according  to their crime                                                               
rate.   Mr. Judy said the  states with the most  gun control laws                                                               
have the highest crime rates.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY recalled  that the warnings of 1994 were  heard again in                                                               
1998  in  regard to  SB  141.   The  outcome  was  the same  when                                                               
nonresidents were  allowed to  carry firearms  in Alaska  as when                                                               
Alaskans were licensed, and that  was, nothing happened.  "Lo and                                                               
behold,  law-abiding  citizens  who  go through  the  process  in                                                               
whatever  state, whatever  the process  is, and  get that  permit                                                               
come to  Alaska, they carry, they  go home, and they  don't cause                                                               
problems," he said.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY  suggested that legislation  to clarify and  broaden the                                                               
number of  states Alaska would  recognize was passed in  2000 due                                                               
to inactivity  on the part of  DPS to comply with  the provisions                                                               
of  the law  and  provide the  listing.   There  was very  little                                                               
opposition  to  that bill.    However,  DPS  has been  unable  to                                                               
provide a complete  and accurate listing of all  the states which                                                               
Alaska recognizes.   As the department stated  earlier, there are                                                               
two types of states that  Alaska recognizes:  states with similar                                                               
laws,  as  defined in  the  statute,  and states  that  recognize                                                               
Alaska permits.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2149                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY recalled that the  department had indicated there are 25                                                               
states  that Alaska  recognizes,  and therefore  he wondered  why                                                               
those states  are listed.   He also  wondered whether  Alaska law                                                               
enforcement has been notified which  25 states Alaska recognizes,                                                               
which  is   critical  because  it's   important  for   local  law                                                               
enforcement to  know which permits  from other states  are valid.                                                               
Mr. Judy  guessed that  there has been  no notification  to local                                                               
law enforcement regarding  those 25 states with  valid permits in                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY offered  that by recognizing permits  from other states,                                                               
HB 346 will  relieve DPS of the burden of  having to evaluate all                                                               
the other  states' laws.   Furthermore, it  will place  local law                                                               
enforcement  on notice  that any  law-abiding  citizen with  that                                                               
permit  from  another state  [has  a  permit  that] is  valid  in                                                               
Alaska.  With  regard to the concern that [HB  346] would require                                                               
Alaska  to recognize  permits from  states with  lower standards,                                                               
Mr. Judy highlighted that every state  law is different.  He said                                                               
44 states  issue concealed-weapon permits, and  consistent across                                                               
those 44 states is that  law-abiding citizens in those states are                                                               
exercising  their  rights with  the  utmost  responsibility.   He                                                               
remarked, "The  State of Alaska  should not have any  concerns or                                                               
reservations about  welcoming the  law-abiding citizens  of other                                                               
states, and honoring their permits."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY  returned attention to  the 1994 DPS white  paper, which                                                               
pointed  out that  in Alaska  anyone who  can lawfully  possess a                                                               
firearm  can  carry openly  practically  anywhere  in the  state.                                                               
This can  occur now.  Therefore,  it makes no sense  not to allow                                                               
those  who  have gone  through  the  process to  carry  concealed                                                               
[firearms]  if  they  can  [already]  carry  openly.    Mr.  Judy                                                               
concluded:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Law-abiding citizens  should be able to  choose whether                                                                    
     or  not they  have  a  need to  provide  for their  own                                                                    
     protection.   They  should be  able to  choose if  they                                                                    
     want to  carry, and  the manner in  which they  carry -                                                                    
     whether  it be  open or  concealed.   So, the  National                                                                    
     Rifle Association, our 20,000 members in Alaska, urge                                                                      
     your support for HB 346.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2319                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL asked if Mr. Judy  has discussed with DPS the issue                                                               
of getting reciprocity under the present agreement.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY  replied yes.   Although the  discussions with  DPS have                                                               
been cordial, he  said, they have been totally  unproductive.  He                                                               
pointed out that  immediately after the passage of  the 1998 law,                                                               
DPS published a  list of 17 states that would  be recognized.  At                                                               
that time,  [NRA] felt  that was  about right.   Within  the next                                                               
year,  however,  DPS  repealed  that list  and  decided  that  no                                                               
permits from other states would  be recognized.  Beginning in May                                                               
1999, Mr.  Judy said  he has  been in contact  with DPS,  and the                                                               
department hasn't gotten to it.   However, in the last week and a                                                               
half, the list has increased from 7  to 11.  He surmised that the                                                               
movement  on the  list  is due  to  HB 346.    He reiterated  his                                                               
preference to  just recognize permits  from all other  states and                                                               
thus he urged the committee's support for HB 346.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY, in response to Chair  Coghill, pointed out that he only                                                               
knew  of one  other  state,  Utah, that  provides  a time  limit;                                                               
Utah's time  limit is 60 days.   He related his  belief that what                                                               
DPS testified  to [in  regard to the  time limit]  isn't correct.                                                               
He stressed  his belief that  Texas would recognize Alaska  if HB
346 passes because  it eliminates the 120-day time  limit.  Texas                                                               
has no  time limit,  as is  the case  in most  states.   Mr. Judy                                                               
related his  [firsthand] knowledge that Texas  will not recognize                                                               
permits  from  Utah  or  Alaska   because  of  the  time  limits.                                                               
Therefore,  elimination  of  the  time limit  will  increase  the                                                               
number of  states that will  recognize Alaskan permits.   He also                                                               
predicted that  with passage of  HB 346, Georgia  would recognize                                                               
permits from Alaska.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2530                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL related  his  understanding,  then, that  Alaska's                                                               
permittees would  benefit from the  passage of  HB 346 as  it is.                                                               
Chair Coghill asked whether the  [existing] rule of requiring the                                                               
permittees to announce they are  [carrying a handgun] is standard                                                               
practice.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JUDY  reiterated  that the  existing  law  recognizes  those                                                               
states with  similar laws, which is  defined in Alaska code.   He                                                               
specified that currently permittees from  other states have to be                                                               
21  years  of  age,  go through  a  fingerprint-based  background                                                               
check,  go  through a  course,  and  be  eligible to  possess  [a                                                               
firearm] under state  and federal law.   Those requirements would                                                               
be  repealed by  HB  346, and  therefore  Alaska would  recognize                                                               
permits from  all other states.   In regard to  notifying police,                                                               
many  states have  that  same requirement.    Anyone carrying  in                                                               
Alaska with an out-of-state permit  would still be required under                                                               
Alaska law,  and under this  law, to notify law  enforcement that                                                               
he/she is carrying a firearm.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  again expressed his  assumption that  these permit                                                               
holders  are  a  very  conscientious  and  disciplined  group  of                                                               
people.   He said he would  be inquiring as to  the problems that                                                               
have been experienced with permitted carriers.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2685                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JESSE  VANDERZANDEN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Outdoor Council                                                               
(AOC),  testified in  support  of the  passage of  HB  346.   Mr.                                                               
VanderZanden informed  the committee  that the  AOC has  about 50                                                               
clubs statewide and is the state  affiliate of NRA in Alaska.  He                                                               
pointed  out  that  AOC's  policies,   bylaws,  and  articles  of                                                               
incorporation  clearly state  the  organization's  belief in  the                                                               
right to  keep and bear  arms as guaranteed by  the constitution.                                                               
The member clubs and individual  memberships comprise over 12,000                                                               
in  the  state.   Many  members  have  encouraged AOC  to  assist                                                               
passage of HB  346.  He highlighted that many  of the members are                                                               
responsible,  law-abiding  citizens   who  actually  teach  these                                                               
concealed-carry  permits [classes].   Mr.  VanderZanden concluded                                                               
by reiterating AOC's support of HB 346.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2800                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  asked if Mr. VanderZanden  saw any reason                                                               
to be  concerned with the criteria  used by other states  in that                                                               
some   states  may   have   a   less  stringent   concealed-carry                                                               
requirement than Alaska.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  VANDERZANDEN  acknowledged  that   it  varies,  although  he                                                               
stressed that it doesn't vary  significantly.  He recognized that                                                               
Alaska's requirements are very thorough  and take time and money.                                                               
He expressed  the need for  local law enforcement to  [know] what                                                               
states Alaska recognizes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS asked  whether  there  should be  concern                                                               
that  allowing  people  from  other  states  to  carry  concealed                                                               
weapons in Alaska lowers [Alaska's] standards.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  VANDERZANDEN said  he didn't  think so.   He  echoed earlier                                                               
testimony that  those going  through the  concealed-carry process                                                               
are upstanding citizens.  The  data doesn't show that these folks                                                               
are the ones who might do something detrimental to society.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2930                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EDDIE GRASSER  informed the  committee that  he is  a Native-born                                                               
Alaskan who grew up in a family business involving guiding.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 02-14, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2961                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRASSER acknowledged that there  are concerns that the Second                                                               
Amendment may  not provide an  individual right to keep  and bear                                                               
arms.   However, he  said the documents  of the  Founding Fathers                                                               
make  it  clear  that  the  Second  Amendment  was  intended  for                                                               
individuals.   The Alaska constitution  is also quite  clear that                                                               
the  right  to  keep  and  bear  arms  is  an  individual  right.                                                               
Therefore, this  discussion is  surrounding a  fundamental right,                                                               
not a privilege.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRASSER  discussed his belief  that the government's  duty is                                                               
to protect those fundamental rights  rather than look for ways to                                                               
take  them  away.   He  charged  that governmental  agencies  and                                                               
legislative bodies discuss  how these rights can be  eroded.  Mr.                                                               
Grasser  stressed  his  belief that  it  isn't  the  government's                                                               
business  to tell  him where  and when  he can  carry a  firearm,                                                               
although he recognized the need  to regulate it [to some degree].                                                               
Therefore,  he  related his  belief  that  it is  incumbent  upon                                                               
legislative bodies to  act in the spirit of  the Founding Fathers                                                               
and ensure that  those rights [relating to the right  to keep and                                                               
bear  arms]  are  protected  to the  extent  possible,  which  he                                                               
believes HB 346 does.  He urged the committee to pass HB 346.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2835                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS asked if Mr.  Grasser has any concern with                                                               
allowing people from other states  to carry concealed firearms in                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRASSER  replied no;  these are Americans,  and he  views the                                                               
right to  carry [firearms]  as one  that extends  beyond borders.                                                               
Mr.  Grasser   specified  that  he  wasn't   concerned  with  the                                                               
requirements   of   other   states  because   he   believes   the                                                               
constitution  provides the  right  [to carry  firearms] to  these                                                               
individuals beyond the scope of  the state's authority to specify                                                               
the exact rules.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  informed the  committee  that  she has  a                                                               
permit to carry a concealed firearm  and feels that she is a much                                                               
safer person [in regard to handling firearms].                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL reminded  the  committee that  HB  346 allows  for                                                               
reciprocity  for  those who  have  gone  through some  background                                                               
check.   Although there  are dissimilarities  in laws  across the                                                               
nation,  there  is  a   heightened  awareness  of  responsibility                                                               
compared with Alaska's ability to  carry openly without regard to                                                               
responsibility.    Chair  Coghill  acknowledged  that  there  are                                                               
constitutional issues.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2656                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. GRIMES  informed the  committee that  her research  has found                                                               
that  five  states  don't require  a  fingerprint-based  criminal                                                               
history  for  permittees;  six states  don't  require  a  handgun                                                               
safety  course of  any kind.    Ms. Grimes  maintained that  this                                                               
research should  be accurate.   She  highlighted that  the Alaska                                                               
concealed-handgun permit  program is responsible for  making sure                                                               
that  permits aren't  issued to  folks who  are prohibited  under                                                               
federal firearm  laws, for  which the  fingerprint-based criminal                                                               
history  is the  best method  to  avoid issuing  permits to  such                                                               
persons.   Therefore, states not requiring  that background check                                                               
could issue  permits to  citizens who aren't  eligible to  own or                                                               
possess firearms under federal law.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. JUDY  reiterated his  position that  evidence has  shown that                                                               
regardless of  the standards,  those who  go through  the process                                                               
don't cause problems.   He also reiterated that  every person who                                                               
can lawfully possess a firearm in  the other 49 states can openly                                                               
carry a  firearm in Alaska.   Therefore,  he felt it  didn't make                                                               
sense  to  allow  everyone  to  carry  openly,  while  the  small                                                               
percentage  of the  population who  goes  through the  permitting                                                               
process [can't carry a concealed firearm].                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2520                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL pointed  out that  [HB  346] deletes  a lot  [from                                                               
statute]; he requested that the rationale be explained.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. YUHAS  responded that the  deleted language is  language that                                                               
[the sponsor] believes encumbers DPS  in its process for granting                                                               
reciprocity.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  noted  that  [HB   346]  does  maintain  language                                                               
regarding notification when stopped by a police officer.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE informed the  committee that in reviewing the                                                               
rating of the  states by [the National Brady  Campaign], he found                                                               
that every state  with a "D" or  lower - except for  two states -                                                               
is a hunting  state.  Twenty-nine of the fifty  states received a                                                               
"D" or less.  Representative Fate commented:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Something's wrong here.  Basically,  it looks as though                                                                    
     the  states that  are hunting  states have  been graded                                                                    
     the lowest, and you'd have  thought that because of the                                                                    
     amount  of  hunting,  and the  gun  activity  in  those                                                                    
     states,  and  the  protection,  and  the  knowledge  of                                                                    
     carrying weapons,  that they would've been  the highest                                                                    
     states.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2405                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  ascertained from the [the  National Brady                                                               
Campaign] rating that 31 states had  received a "D" [or lower] in                                                               
regard  to  concealed-carry laws.    He  pointed out  that  those                                                               
states that prohibit concealed-carry [permits] received an "A."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON pointed  out  that those  states with  low                                                               
scores  from [the  National Brady  Campaign]  rating are  [states                                                               
with low crime rates].                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. YUHAS addressed concerns stated  in regard to permittees with                                                               
unknown backgrounds.  To that,  she echoed earlier testimony that                                                               
those  [permittees  from  other   states]  have  gone  through  a                                                               
background  check,  although  it  may  not  be  as  extensive  as                                                               
Alaska's.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. YUHAS offered the following  statistics regarding people with                                                               
concealed-carry permits:   licensees are 5.7  percent less likely                                                               
to be  arrested for  violent offenses;  licensees are  13.5 times                                                               
less  likely to  be  arrested for  nonviolent  offenses; and  the                                                               
general  public is  1.4  times  more likely  to  be arrested  for                                                               
murder.   Furthermore, states  that allow  people to  conceal and                                                               
carry firearms have an average  of 24 percent lower total violent                                                               
crimes, 26  percent lower homicides, 39  percent lower robberies,                                                               
and 19 percent  lower aggravated assaults.   She also highlighted                                                               
that concealed-handgun  laws reduce  murder by 8.5  percent, rape                                                               
by  5 percent,  and  severe  assault by  7  percent.   Ms.  Yuhas                                                               
related that  she personally took the  concealed-carry class, but                                                               
refused to  do the paperwork because  she felt the only  piece of                                                               
paper she needed [to carry a  firearm] was the constitution.  Ms.                                                               
Yuhas concluded by urging the committee to pass HB 346.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2230                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FATE moved to report  HB 346 out of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  zero  fiscal                                                               
note.   There being  no objection,  HB 346 was  moved out  of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects