Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/04/2006 08:30 AM Senate JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved SCS CSHB 408(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
                HB 400-CONFISCATION OF FIREARMS                                                                             
10:20:34 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  RALPH  SEEKINS  announced  CSHB  400(FIN)  to  be  up  for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHN COGHILL,  Sponsor, introduced  the bill.  He                                                               
said it was in response  to Hurricane Katrina where the community                                                               
had a tough time getting control  of the area. The bill addresses                                                               
a situation  where there is  near anarchy.  It proposes to  add a                                                               
new  section  to  AS  26.23.200  that states  that  there  is  no                                                               
authority granted or  implied under the Alaska  Disaster Act that                                                               
authorizes  the   confiscation  of  a  firearm   lawfully  owned,                                                               
possessed, or carried by law-abiding citizens.                                                                                  
10:24:04 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  CHARLIE  HUGGINS  posed   a  hypothetical  situation  of                                                               
martial law.  He asked whether  that would change the  ability to                                                               
confiscate privately owned weapons.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL did not know.                                                                                            
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  Representative  Coghill  to describe  the                                                               
circumstances  that   happened  during  Hurricane   Katrina  that                                                               
ultimately brought forth HB 400.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL advised that  the National Guard and local                                                               
sheriff's department  were involved in confiscating  weapons from                                                               
citizens.  The  National Rifle  Association  sued  the local  law                                                               
enforcement  over the  issue  but  he didn't  know  how the  suit                                                               
turned out.                                                                                                                     
DEAN  GUANELI, Chief  Assistant Attorney  General, Department  of                                                               
Law (DOL), responded to Senator  Huggins' question of martial law                                                               
and advised that  the governor has the authority  to make certain                                                               
declarations such  as martial  law. HB  400 addresses  a disaster                                                               
situation,  which  is  carefully  defined in  Alaska  law.  In  a                                                               
situation where  the governor declares  martial law,  it probably                                                               
does not remove anybody's constitutional rights.                                                                                
10:29:28 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH said for  the record there was  nothing in                                                               
the bill  to stop legitimate  law enforcement efforts  to prevent                                                               
looters, thieves and rioters.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL agreed.                                                                                                  
10:31:49 AM                                                                                                                   
AUSTIN MAHAULKEY,  Glennallen, testified that he  agreed with the                                                               
original  bill  but since  then  it  has  been amended.  He  took                                                               
exception  to line  11 and  said if  a peace  officer can't  take                                                               
weapons how can he designate someone  else to do it. He suggested                                                               
the committee delete the entire section.                                                                                        
MICHAEL NELSON,  Glennallen, testified against the  bill. He said                                                               
the US Constitution  allows citizens the right to  bear arms. The                                                               
United  States military  is mainly  over seas,  while Russia  and                                                               
China  are next  door.  Who is  to say  during  martial law  that                                                               
citizens don't  have the right  to protect themselves,  he asked.                                                               
He said he preferred the original version of the bill.                                                                          
BRIAN  JUDY,   National  Rifleman's  Association,   testified  in                                                               
support of  the bill.  He referred to  Hurricane Katrina  of 2005                                                               
and  advised the  committee that  after the  disaster law-abiding                                                               
citizens   were  stripped   of  their   firearms  by   local  law                                                               
enforcement.  The   bill  clarifies   that  during  a   state  of                                                               
emergency, law-abiding  citizens will  be assured of  their right                                                               
to bear arms and protect themselves against looters and thieves.                                                                
10:35:58 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  Representative Coghill  whether  he  was                                                               
concerned over  the amount  of non-support  the bill  was getting                                                               
from Glennallen.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL responded  he wanted to craft  the bill in                                                               
such  a  way so  that  people  could  help the  authorities  gain                                                               
control  over a  disaster situation.  He indicated  he was  happy                                                               
with the bill as it stood.                                                                                                      
CHAIR SEEKINS  referred to  line 8 and  asked whether  the person                                                               
could be considered eligible for rehire.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said he'd be  open to suggestions  and be                                                               
willing to discuss that option.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  GRETCHEN  GUESS  asked  for  clarification  whether  the                                                               
statute  could  force  an  elected   official  to  forfeit  their                                                               
MR.  GUANELI advised  that the  Legislature could  set parameters                                                               
that govern the holding of public  office. To the extent that the                                                               
Legislature could  pose those kinds  of requirements, then  it is                                                               
within their authority to say  that a person convicted of certain                                                               
offenses  they would  forfeit the  constitutional  right to  bear                                                               
arms. The  Legislature could  also force  an elected  official to                                                               
forfeit a position of public office, he stated.                                                                                 
CHAIR SEEKINS said he understood  that the official would have to                                                               
10:43:09 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS said  she would like to know where  else in statute                                                               
it states that an elected official must forfeit their position.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  noted that  any forfeiture would  have to                                                               
go through due process.                                                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS held the bill in committee.                                                                                       

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