Alaska is arguably the most pro-Second Amendment state in the country. The late Congressman Don Young was even on the board of the National Rifle Association since first elected to the board in 1995.
But Rep. Mary Peltola, the person now representing Alaska in Congress not only has a “D” rating from the NRA but got that D rating for her statements and votes that gun laws should be stricter. She’s had a record of pushing for “commonsense” gun laws since her days in the Alaska Legislature.
Peltola, who is filling out Congressman Young’s remaining few months in office, is on the record for believing gun laws should be stricter.
While she was a legislator for Bethel, she supported gun control legislation. Back then, she was known as Mary Kapsner, Mary Nelson, and Mary Sattler, through her various marriages.
In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill to ban so-called assault-style weapons. The vote was sprung on the public by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just before the House broke for the August recess, and it passed 217 to 213. If Congressman Don Young had been alive, he may have stopped the vote. Pelosi said the ban is a “crucial step in our ongoing fight against the deadly epidemic of gun violence.”
It’s hard to know what Rep. Peltola would have done had she been in Congress then. She hasn’t had to vote on gun control in many years. But she has answered candidate questionnaires.
Answering the question in the Anchorage Daily News about whether she supports gun control legislation, Peltola wrote that she thinks that there should be gun storage laws, waiting period to purchase guns, and federal universal background checks.
To public media, she said she supports a bipartisan congressional committee to bring commonsense legislation to Congress.
Peltola said to the ADN, “it’s past time our nation’s leaders put forth more than just words to address the grief we all share. We can take common sense action, and we must. Provisions like secure storage laws, reasonable waiting periods and universal background checks can make all of us safer while still preserving the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”
That is the kind of veiled answer that will get a politician a “D” from the NRA.
To Alaska Public Media, Peltola wrote, “I support the creation of a bipartisan congressional committee tasked with bringing common sense gun legislation to Congress that helps prevent tragedies in our communities, preserves the subsistence lifestyle that many people depend on, and respects our 2nd amendment rights.”
To Time Magazine, Peltola left the door open for what is called an assault weapon ban: “Of course, I support background checks. I don’t think that that is an infringement on Second Amendment rights. I would like to see the particulars of an assault weapons ban, because they are used in some instances in hunting in Alaska. And they are tied to food security. But right out of the gate, no, I don’t support a complete ban on all assault rifles.”
Perhaps only a ban on them for non-hunters? Only such firearms for rural hunters?
Her Republican opponents are not on board with her equivocating. Sarah Palin has an A rating from the NRA and is the organization’s endorsed candidate.
Nick Begich has what is called an A-Q rating, which means he has an A rating, but no legislative history yet to judge him by. Chris Bye is not rated by the NRA, which means he has not answered the group’s questionnaire.
Peltola is a “D.”
Candidate Sarah Palin was clearly not on board with the “assault weapons” ban: “No. The term ‘assault weapons’ doesn’t even have a universally agreed-upon definition, and politicians have proven time and again that they are more than willing to abuse ambiguity like that to infringe on our freedoms.”
Nick Begich was equally clear: “I strongly support the Second Amendment. I would not support reinstating the [so-called assault weapon] ban that expired in 2004.”
Alaskans have a lot of guns, an average of more than one and a half gun per household. But right now, it has two members of the federal delegation to Congress that are in favor of gun control. In June, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted in favor of a gun safety bill, which was then signed by President Joe Biden.