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New Alaska Gun Laws to Take Effect

Date Posted to Site: 10/18/2005

Starting Wednesday, handgun owners won't need permits to carry concealed weapons in the seven Alaska cities where they're still required. There also will be no more restrictions on keeping a firearm in a vehicle.

A new state anti-gun control law that goes into effect will essentially bar municipalities from passing gun laws that are more restrictive than state law.

The National Rifle Association, which helped Republican state Rep. Mike Chenault write the legislation, says except for the concealed weapon permit requirements, most Alaska city and state gun laws are the same.

What the NRA wants to do is prevent cities from passing more restrictive laws in the future. It calls it state pre-emption, and Alaska will be the 44th state to have such a law on its books.

"We are looking to make it uniform to all 50 states," said NRA spokeswoman Kelly Hobbs. "Without it, it creates an unfair, inconsistent and confusing patchwork of local firearm ordinances."

But Alaska police chiefs worry about no longer being able to enforce laws banning guns from public buildings, such as city halls.

The new law would allow cities to keep guns out of places beyond a restricted access point, such as a metal detector, but the chiefs say their cities can't afford the staff or equipment.

"There are lots of people, myself included, we really value our constitutional rights," said Anchorage Police Chief Walter Monegan. "But if we had the same enthusiasm to also support our constitutional responsibilities, then I would be less concerned over this issue."

Chenault argues that even though state law now does not specifically prohibit weapons in municipal buildings, it does prohibit them in state buildings, so a municipal law wouldn't be considered more restrictive.

He acknowledged, however, that it may take a court challenge to see if he's right.

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