Tarr’s bill would give judges right to take guns


Feeling a bit blue today? Feel like taking some time in your shop reloading?

Rep. Geran Tarr of Anchorage has a fix for that.

Tarr has a proposal that would allow a judge to seize your guns and ammo if your family or the courts decide you are mentally ill and a danger to yourself or others.

But this is just the beginning, said many testifiers during today’s first hearing on HB 75. Although more gun control is needed, they said, HB 75 is the one baby step the government can take right now, in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, which left 17 young people dead.

Tarr introduced HB 75 in 2017, after an Iraqi war veteran from Anchorage traveled 4,000 air miles to Florida and shot and killed people at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

Esteban Santiago had, months earlier, walked into the FBI office in Anchorage with a loaded handgun magazine. He was clearly agitated and told agents he was experiencing “terroristic thoughts,” and he told them the CIA was making him watch ISIS videos.


The FBI referred his case to Anchorage authorities and Santiago was admitted to Alaska Psychiatric Institute. He was delusional and paranoid. Police took his gun. Four days later, he was released and his gun was given back to him. He went on to kill five people and injure six others in Florida.


That incident, plus all the crime in Anchorage and the suicide death of her own brother, spurred Rep. Tarr to draft HB 75 last year. Her answer to violence is to take guns away from those who are mentally ill.

But as the details of Santiago’s descent into madness unfolded, it became clear that all the systems to stop him from doing harm to others were in place, but simply failed. The bill didn’t seem ripe last year.

HB 75 was never heard until today, when it was the top subject in the House Judiciary Committee, where Committee Chairman Matt Claman allowed Tarr to dust off her proposal and present it in light of a more recent mass shooting and a more tender current public sentiment.

HB 75 would establish a gun “risk protective order,”  allowing police or others to get a quick ruling on the mental stability of a person who owns weapons.

Judges could then order weapons and ammunition seized, with or without a hearing.

During today’s committee hearing,  both invited and public members talked about gun violence and student safety.

But before long, the reason people wanted HB 75 to be passed included suicide as a main reason. Alaska has a high rate of suicide and HB 75 could reduce it, said person after person who stepped to the microphone.

Sally Rue, former school board president, was among the several testifiers who mentioned suicide as a reason to pass HB 75, although she was also concerned about school shootings.

Rep. Reinbold of Eagle River wondered what other things might be taken away from people who might harm themselves, whether it’s the forcible taking of car keys or pills. She focused on hardening the safety of school buildings.

John Sonin of Juneau testified that he represents “civilized humanity” and that “this craziness going on in the White House” was evidence enough that there is a mental health crisis in the country.

Only one person testified against the bill, among approximately two dozen who spoke.

In practical terms, the bill would not do much more than the law currently allows through 48-hour psychiatric holds now permitted under State Statute.

Democrat Reps. Ivy Spohnholz and Harriet Drummond are cosponsors of the HB 75, which did not move from committee.

The full text of the bill is here.


  1. The anti-gun rights Democrats have the bit in their teeth following the Florida school shooting. Look for amendments in House Judiciary that bite at the 2nd Amendment. As Obama’s boy said, never let a good crisis go to waste.

  2. After the 9-11 terrorist event, the US took EXTREME measures to stop terrorists. They armed pilots, created the TSA–a whole new government agency–, made many security changes to the aviation industry, etc. Some of these changes are unknown to the general public. But–the industry changed immensely. My gosh–we even went to WAR over 9-11. And yet, we have been dealing with school shootings since Columbine in 1999. And–in my opinion–we have not made any real, meaningful changes. Many of the “systems” to prevent the mentally ill from possessing guns have failed–time and time again. So SOMETHING has to change! I am a Republican. I believe in the 2nd amendment. I understand the NRA is a powerful lobby. I’m sorry….but I think this is the moment for change. The government and society need to come up with ways to enforce existing laws and maybe make some new requirements.Do everyday citizens really need automatic weapons? Do kids under 21 (who can’t even buy a Bud Lite) really need to be able to buy guns? Think about it. I also think that violent video games are conditioning our kids to view death unrealistically and have a detrimental effect on young people. In addition to all of this…I think the ACLU needs to understand that SOME PEOPLE are simply unfit to live free amongst us! Their parents can’t control them, their teachers can’t control them. They should be locked up in a mental health care facility until they can get the help they need! But–repeatedly–we let these people go and they can’t be locked up until they commit a crime–such as murdering innocent school kids. The “authorities” in Florida visited the Florida shooter’s house–what–29 times!!?? Is that not a red flag??? And–yet he “slipped through the cracks”. As Republicans, we all know that “governmental systems” fail. But–honestly–we have to do something. I have a guest from another country here in Alaska to visit. They have a very effective way to secure schools: put a huge fence around it with barbed wire at the top. The only entrance is a guard shack that has an armed guard inside. Kids are allowed in but any visitor must check in with the guard. Does that sound reasonable to anyone out there? I love your posts, Suzanne. These words are just my opinion. I think Trump has got every single American thinking about shaking up the establishment. So–we ALL have to participate and think. In my opinion, we cannot sit back and continue to see this violence continue.

    • Cindi, you have bought the MSM narrative with this comment “Do everyday citizens really need automatic weapons? ” It’s a semi-automatic weapon, like the .22 my son and I used hunting ptarmigan, the shotgun I have for bear protection, and my handgun I have for self defense. It is NOT the weapon, it’s a combination of the psychotropic drugs fed to kids and the loss of a complete family.
      Research mass school shootings and the drugs the perps were on starting with Columbine. The only article I have seen on this common denominator is on wnd.com..
      I lived in the bush for over 20 years, and to deny an 18yr old to buy ANY type of gun goes completely against the subsistence lifestyle.

    • If you want the age to be an adult raised to 21, fine but go all the way. No military, no alcohol, no tobacco no contracts, no marriage no driving till 18 and that’s a learners only and most of all repeal the 26th and raise the voting age to 21. Then if you’re all in you must agree they are not responsible enough or have the judgement to vote.

  3. We already know that many judges are leftist activists and that Democrats rely on them to accomplish what they cannot accomplish legislatively. Lately, court and judge shopping has become a tool to stop immigration reform that President Trump is trying to enforce. So, a left leaning judge would be a good place to take a case if someone wanted to take away guns and ammunition from a “mentally unstable” person. Judges political leanings are not hard to figure out.

  4. Cindi has a valid point. However, we also need to recognize that the people who have committed these heinous crimes are severely in the minority. To my knowledge, only one of these Juvenile shooters purchased a weapon legally. The rest were stolen or used without permission. The latest fiend had owned his for a while. It was not a spontaneous purchase. So, where does that leave us? Leaves a cooling off period as seemingly worthless. Weapon type also seems to be arbitrary but an AR “Assault” platform is good eye candy for the media. These are all band aids and flags to be waved depending on what side of the debate you ride. I have inner city Oakland relatives that view any weapon as equatable to violence. They don’t see a tool or a sport, they see gang banger drive-byes.
    There is one demographic I see as not receiving much focus. Those that have immersed themselves in an alternate reality and have in my opinion become desensitized to what reality is. Yes, the video games and violent movies factor in but the core of this is that there is no accountability and responsibility for ones actions. Couple this with characters who emulate an anonymity from rules and then medicate the kid with the likes of Ritalin and you have a person that is going to have a Hell of a time being a responsible contributor to society. You have potentially charged a bomb.
    My son was looking at the various branches of the Military and the first question each of the recruiters asked him was if had ever been prescribed Ritalin or similar drug for ADHD. Had the answer been yes, immediate disqualification. That was an eye opener. I’m not a Government knows best kind of guy but when they asked that, it made me wonder if the Military knows something we should acknowledge too.

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