Alaskans Take Dim View of Obama’s Gun Proposals
State Speaker of the House files legislation to fight enforcement
ANCHORAGE/JUNEAU - Alaskans have strong opinions about their guns. After President Obama unveiled a package of initiatives designed to curb gun violence, gun owners’ response has been clear: They don't like new limitations, and they don't like not knowing what these new laws will mean for the guns they already own.
“I think it's ridiculous, and it’s totally against my rights,“ said Tamra Freeman, a mother and a gun owner. She said she’s not happy with the plans the president announced today. She said that taking guns out of the hands of responsible and law-abiding people would not keep the weapons from criminals.
But not all Alaskans think the new proposals are a bad thing.
“When the Constitution was written, they were taking like a minute to load like one shot for their firearms, right?” Darren Mackie asked. He’s not a gun owner, and said he’d never want one. “When they wrote it, the ‘right to bear arms,’ but now they’ve got guns that can shoot out like a thousand rounds a minute, or some craziness like that,” he said. He supported new background checks to obtain guns and said he agrees with the idea of limiting the number of rounds that are allowed to fit in a magazine.
At Rabbit Creek Shooting Park in South Anchorage, gun owners were out practicing today. And while many declined to be interviewed on camera, one new gun owner said talk of the new federal restrictions are the reason he was there, practicing with a new gun he feared would soon be impossible to buy.
At Alaska Custom Firearms, Gunsmith Stephen Koziczkowski said he thinks even the language used to discuss guns needs to be clearer.
“High capacity magazines is another one of those things that are very subject to interpretation,” he said. “If a rifle comes out with a thirty round magazine, for that rifle, that is a standard-issue magazine.” What’s considered a high capacity magazine for one gun, Koziczkowski said, is simply standard on another.
And the idea of better background checks, while well meaning, is another phrase that leaves gun advocate nervous.
“Comprehensive is open to interpretation,” he said. “How comprehensive do you want to make the background check? Do you want to go through a federal security check like they do at the airport every time you buy a firearm? That takes weeks. That's pretty comprehensive. But even we've had people there slip through the cracks.”
Despite the uncertainty, gun sales continue to soar in Alaska, and across the country. And though many questions remain about what Obama’s proposals mean for gun owners, demand for guns remains high. And with new regulations now in play, it's anyone's guess when manufacturers and retailers will be able to meet that demand.
After the president's speech, a Nikiski lawmaker wasted no time filing legislation to combat some of the president's plans.
House Bill 69, introduced today by Republican Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, would charge any federal employee with a misdemeanor if they tried to enforce any of the executive orders issued today by the president.
This follows the lead of Wyoming and Texas, two states which have already introduced similar. bills.
Chenault says the bill is important to protect gun rights in Alaska. “While its pretty harsh, I think Alaskans think that highly of their guns, and the rights to bear arms,” he said. “I think that they would probably support that issue.”
But other lawmakers think Chenault has overstepped his bounds.
“I think the idea of arresting federal officials is just about as bad an idea as you can have, and I'm surprised that any person would file such a bill,” Anchorage Democratic Senator Hollis French said.
“You know I support the second amendment, but that is now what this bill is about. This bill is apparently about bringing back the civil war.”
French added, “When you talk about arresting federal officials, you're asking for an incitement, and that's not the right way to solve problems in America, you sort of look for constructive solutions, and this isn't one.”
Chenault says he had been working on the bill before the president's announcement today. For his part, French says he doubts the bill will leave the House.