At midnight on Wednesday, the Alaska Legislature adjourned from its 2022 Legislative Session. Second Amendment legislation — both pro-gun ownership and anti-gun ownership — died that night.
Mandatory firearm storage legislation, House Bill 203, failed to gain enough votes to pass in committee.
Second Amendment emergency powers protection legislation, Senate Bill 136, fell short by just two votes in the House for final passage.
House Bill 203 – (“Safe Storage”) sought to give law enforcement the ability to issue a fine to gun owners of up to $1,000 if an unauthorized individual gains access to a firearm and proceeds to injure themselves or another. The bill essentially required firearms to be locked and rendered inaccessible for self-defense in the home. HB 203 was an attempt to punish law-abiding gun owners for the crimes of criminals, while current state law already provides an avenue for cases where true negligence with a firearm is present.
Senate Bill 136, (“Emergency Powers Protections”) sponsored by Sen. Rob Myers and co-sponsored by 23 other legislators, sought to provide protections for gun stores, ranges, or any other entity that engages in the lawful selling or servicing of firearms, components, or accessories. This measure would have prevented the prohibition, regulation, or seizure of citizens’ Second Amendment rights during a declared State of Emergency. SB 136 was a direct response to infringements on the Second Amendment that occurred across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill fell short of passage by two votes in the House on the final day of the legislative session.
SB 136 had unanimously passed the Senate on March 16, and spent nearly two-months in the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee before receiving its passing vote of 5-2, on May 17. The House companion bill, House Bill 179, sponsored by House Minority Leader Rep. Cathy Tilton, has sat in the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee since its introduction on April 16, 2021. That bill never received a hearing.
SB 136 was advanced to the House Floor where it needed a 3/4 vote to advance from second to third reading. The bill received hours of debate and amendments were offered, including an attempt by Rep. Adam Wool, the sponsor of HB 203, to add his government-issued firearms storage programs into the emergency powers bill – this amendment failed to pass by a vote of 16-24.
One amendment, offered by Rep. Sara Rasmussen was adopted; it would have required K-12 grade school districts to offer hunter safety education courses.
SB 136 ultimately needed 30 votes to pass from second to third reading, but the final vote was 28-12. Blocking the bill from making it to a final vote were Rep. Harriet Drummond, Rep. Zack Fields, Rep. Sara Hannan, Rep. Andy Josephson, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Rep. Daniel Ortiz, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Rep. Andi Story, Rep. Geran Tarr, Rep. Chris Tuck, and Rep. Adam Wool.
The NRA thanked Sen. Rob Myers (R-Fairbanks) and Minority Leader Rep. Cathy Tilton (R-Wasilla), both 2A champions who sponsored the emergency powers bills and worked with leadership on both sides of the aisle.
(This story is adapted from NRA Institute for Legislative Action, NRAILA.org).