Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/24/1996 01:50 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  SENATE BILL NO. 177                                                          
                                                                               
       "An  Act   relating  to  permits  to   carry  concealed                 
       handguns."                                                              
                                                                               
  BRENT HUBER, STAFF, SENATOR GREEN testified  on behalf of SB                 
  177.  He provided the Committee with written testimony (copy                 
  on file).  He maintained that SB 177 will revise the current                 
  concealed handgun program to provide  a more streamlined and                 
  less costly process.                                                         
                                                                               
  Mr. Huber  provided members with a sectional  analysis of SB                 
  177 (copy on file).  He reviewed the sectional analysis.  He                 
  noted that the sponsor has  provided an amendment that would                 
  remove subsections 1(e)  and 11(a).   Subsection 1(a)  would                 
                                                                               
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  provide an affirmative  defense for AS 11.61.210  that would                 
  allow permit holders  to carry  concealed weapons on  school                 
  grounds  providing  that  they  did  not  exit  a  propelled                 
  vehicle.  He  stressed that  the sponsor has  tried to  find                 
  language that would allow permit  holders the opportunity to                 
  pick up or  drop off their children at school.   The sponsor                 
  was  not  able  to  find  language  that  was  agreeable  to                 
  opponents  and  recommends  the  deletion  of  the  existing                 
  language.                                                                    
                                                                               
  TESS  LANUM, VICE  PRESIDENT  ON LEGISLATION,  ALASKA  STATE                 
  PARENT/TEACHERS ASSOCIATION testified via the teleconference                 
  network.  (Ms.  Lanum's written remarks  are on file.)   She                 
  stated  that  Alaska   PTA  agrees   with  the  removal   of                 
  subsections 1(e) and  11(a).    She asked that the  original                 
  law regarding concealed weapons on school property remain in                 
  place.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Representative  Kelly noted  that subsection  11(a) of  work                 
  draft, 9-LS1139\S,  4/22/96, states that  concealed handguns                 
  may  not be  carried on  to school  grounds or a  school bus                 
  "other  than  while in  a  propelled vehicle,  other  than a                 
  school bus,  and the permittee  does not exit  the vehicle".                 
  Ms. Lanum spoke in opposition to the language in 11(a).                      
                                                                               
  WENDY REDMOND, VICE PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA spoke in                 
  support  of  deleting  subsections  1(e)  and  11(a).    She                 
  observed  that  University  of  Alaska  classrooms  are  not                 
  covered by the legislation since they are not included under                 
  the definition of  "schools."  She requested  that concealed                 
  handguns  be  excluded  from  University  of  Alaska  campus                 
  grounds  or facilities  except as  provided by the  Board of                 
  Regents  policy.    She  noted that  the  Board  of  Regents                 
  currently allow guns on campus.   There are secure places in                 
  each dorm for gun storage.  Guns are allowed in locked cars.                 
  The  University of  Alaska does  not  support the  policy of                 
  concealed  weapons  in  classrooms.    She  emphasized  that                 
  campuses  are  well  protected.     There  are  commissioned                 
  officers  on campuses.   She added that  security forces and                 
  lighting have been increased.                                                
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE  JOE  GREEN  stated  that  he is  opposed  to                 
  allowing  concealed  handguns  on  schools.    He  expressed                 
  support for the  elimination of subsections 1(e)  and 11(a).                 
  He stressed that if protection is needed that other measures                 
  should be taken.                                                             
                                                                               
  HELEN MERHRKENS,  STATE BOARD  OF EDUCATION  noted that  the                 
  Board unanimously opposes the concept  of allowing concealed                 
  handguns  on  school  grounds.   She  noted  that  the Board                 
  believes that all conditions directly  related to the safety                 
  and health of public school students and staff are of utmost                 
                                                                               
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  importance.    She added  that  the Board  opposes concealed                 
  weapons in state operated public libraries.                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Kelly  asked Ms. Merhrkens  for the rationale                 
  behind her objections.  Ms.  Merhrkens stated that testimony                 
  from  parents  indicated  concern that  there  with  guns on                 
  school property.  She  stated that parents do not  want guns                 
  on  school grounds  unless  they are  part  of an  organized                 
  event.   She  stated that  someone  who brings  a  concealed                 
  handgun in a vehicle may illegally  get out of the car  with                 
  their gun.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Representative  Kelly expressed  support for the  ability of                 
  parents to carry concealed  weapons in their cars on  school                 
  grounds.  He maintained that  it would be a benefit  to have                 
  parents  with  guns on  school  grounds  in the  case  of an                 
  incident.  Ms. Merhrkens stated that their preference is for                 
  trained law enforcement officers to  respond to incidents on                 
  school grounds.                                                              
                                                                               
  Representative Martin noted the use of guns  in rural areas.                 
  Ms. Merhrkens noted that  the use of rifle ranges  would not                 
  be prohibited under current law.                                             
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-136, Side 1)                                            
                                                                               
  Representative  Kelly  summarized  that  a  handgun  can  be                 
  carried in the trunk if it is unloaded.                                      
                                                                               
  DUANE BUELL, JUNEAU testified in SB 177.  He stated  that he                 
  supports  any   provision  that   relaxes  restrictions   on                 
  concealed handguns.  He noted that permit holders from other                 
  states  have to  meet qualifications  in their  states.   He                 
  asserted  that  "not one  of  the horror  stories  that (the                 
  Department of) Public Safety advanced as being a consequence                 
  of passing a concealed carry bill has come true in the  last                 
  16 months."   He pointed out  that the process assures  that                 
  permit  holders  are law  abiding  responsible persons.   He                 
  stressed that he wants the ability  to defend himself if the                 
  need arises.  He spoke against restrictions.                                 
                                                                               
  Representative Kohring echoed the remarks of Mr. Buell.                      
                                                                               
  Representative Brown stated that a permittee can carry their                 
  weapon in a holster, unconcealed, in  most of the areas that                 
  concealed weapons can not be carried.  Mr. Buell argued that                 
  those  that  carry weapons  in  the  open are  a  target for                 
  criminals.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Mr.  Huber  noted  that  AS  11.61.220  A(4)(a)  allows  all                 
  unloaded firearms to be carried  in a trunk or encased in  a                 
  closed  container  in a  motor vehicle.   He  clarified that                 
                                                                               
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  concealed handguns would be included under this provision.                   
                                                                               
  In response to a question by Representative Brown, Mr. Huber                 
  discussed section 3.   He noted  that current law  prohibits                 
  anyone from carrying concealed handguns  anyplace that has a                 
  beverage dispensary license.  This includes restaurants.  He                 
  noted that permit holders want to be able to go out to lunch                 
  with their  weapons.   He observed  that there  is no  clear                 
  differentiation between  restaurants  and bars.   He  stated                 
  that it is already against the law and in statute to possess                 
  a firearm while  intoxicated.  He maintained  that concealed                 
  handgun permit holders  should be able to  go in and out  of                 
  normal businesses.   He stressed  that under an  affirmative                 
  defense the defendant would have to prove that they have not                 
  consumed  alcohol in  the  8 hours  previous  to carrying  a                 
  concealed weapon.   He noted that  a blood alcohol level  of                 
  below  .04  percent  is  the  same  as  commercial  driver's                 
  license.  The first detectable level is .02 percent.                         
                                                                               
  Representative Brown noted  that a  loaded firearm could  be                 
  concealed in a place where liquor is sold.  Mr. Huber stated                 
  that the exception is for a loaded firearm in the possession                 
  of a permit  holder who  has not  consumed or  has no  blood                 
  alcohol level greater than .04 percent.                                      
                                                                               
  Mr. Huber explained that an  affirmative defense states that                 
  the  laws  of  the section  pertain,  however,  an allowable                 
  exception is  given if proof is  made that the terms  of the                 
  exception are met.  He noted that the  Department of Law did                 
  not support a direct offense.  The burden of proof  would be                 
  on the permit holder.                                                        
                                                                               
  Representative Brown asked if this provision would encourage                 
  persons to violate the law.  Mr. Huber noted that one of the                 
  requirements for obtaining  a permit  is that the  permittee                 
  have a clear explanation and study  of the laws that pertain                 
  to the program.                                                              
                                                                               
  Representative Brown referred to subsections 11 (4) and (5).                 
  She asked why the existing language  was deleted.  Mr. Huber                 
  noted  that  testimony stressed  that  the firearm  properly                 
  possessed  by the  permit holder  is safer  in their  direct                 
  control than  left in  a car outside  of their control.   He                 
  maintained that permit holders are the most law  abiding and                 
  responsible citizens.                                                        
                                                                               
  In response to a question by Representative Brown, Mr. Huber                 
  noted   that  subsection  11(8)  received  the  most  public                 
  testimony.    Deletion  of  subsection   11(8)  would  allow                 
  concealed weapons to be carried in financial institutions or                 
  banks.   He  maintained that  permit holders  want to  carry                 
  concealed weapons as protection to and from banks.                           
                                                                               
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  Representative Martin MOVED  to adopt  Amendment 1 (copy  on                 
  file).  Amendment 1 would provide that concealed handguns be                 
  excluded from  the University  of Alaska  campus grounds  or                 
  facilities  except  as  provided  by  the Board  of  Regents                 
  policy.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                        
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder  MOVED to adopt  committee substitute,                 
  Work   Draft,  9-LS1139\S,  dated   4\22\96  as  amended  by                 
  Amendment 1 (copy on file).                                                  
                                                                               
  Mr.  Huber discussed  changes in  the committee  substitute.                 
  Section 3 was changed to include the blood alcohol level.  A                 
  blanket prohibition on health care  providing facilities was                 
  deleted.  He noted that  individual facilities can set their                 
  own  policy  regarding concealed  handguns.   He  added that                 
  reciprocity provisions were changed.                                         
                                                                               
  There  being NO  OBJECTION,  Work  Draft, 9-LS1139\S,  dated                 
  4\22\96 as amended by Amendment 1 was adopted.                               
                                                                               
  Representative  Mulder   MOVED  to  adopt  Amendment  2,  9-                 
  LS1139\S.1 (copy  on file).  Amendment 2 would delete "other                 
  than while in a propelled vehicle,  other than a school bus,                 
  and   the   permittee   does   not   exit   the    vehicle."                 
  Representative Kelly  expressed opposition  to Amendment  2,                 
  but  acknowledged  that  there  is  strong support  for  the                 
  amendment among opponents of concealed handguns.                             
                                                                               
  Mr. Huber stated that the legislation would remain silent in                 
  regards  to  any  provisions   regarding  schools  with  the                 
  adoption  of  Amendment  2.    The current  law  disallowing                 
  concealed   handguns  on   school  property   would  remain.                 
  Representative  Kelly noted  that handguns could  be carried                 
  unloaded in a trunk or container.                                            
                                                                               
  In  response  to a  question  by Representative  Mulder, Mr.                 
  Huber  noted  that  if another  state  is  honoring Alaska's                 
  permit, Alaska would honor their permit.  He emphasized that                 
  other states also  provide for  a criminal background  check                 
  and finger  printing information.   He  noted that  training                 
  provisions  differ  from  state  to state.    Representative                 
  Mulder expressed concern that other  states provide the same                 
  protection.                                                                  
                                                                               
  DEL SMITH, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC  SAFETY                 
  stated that he understood that other states would have to be                 
  as stringent as Alaska for reciprocity to exist.                             
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Foster MOVED  to report HCS  CSSB 177 (FIN) out  of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal notes.                                                   
                                                                               
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  Representative Brown  OBJECTED for  purposes of  discussion.                 
  She maintained that handguns are  a threat to our  children.                 
  She asserted  that the proliferation  throughout society  is                 
  troubling and a  threat.   She thought it  was a mistake  to                 
  expand   areas    concealed   weapons   can    be   carried.                 
  Representative Brown WITHDREW her Objection.                                 
                                                                               
  There  being NO OBJECTION,  HCS CSSB 177  (FIN) was reported                 
  out of Committee.                                                            
                                                                               
  Representative Kohring maintained that expansion of handguns                 
  will provide greater safety to law abiding citizens.                         
                                                                               
  HCS CSSB  177 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do                 
  pass" recommendation and  with a fiscal  impact note by  the                 
  Department of Public  Safety, dated  4\11\96; a zero  fiscal                 
  note  by the Department of Corrections, dated 3/26/96; and a                 
  zero fiscal note by the Department of Law, dated 3/6/96.                     

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