At midnight on Wednesday, the Alaska Legislature adjourned from its 2022 Legislative Session. Mandatory firearm storage legislation, House Bill 203, failed to gain enough votes to pass in committee. Unfortunately, Second Amendment Emergency Powers Protection Legislation, Senate Bill 136, fell short by just 2 votes for final passage in the afternoon hours of the session.
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. This bill essentially required firearms to be locked and rendered inaccessible for self-defense in the home. HB 203 was another 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 Senator Myers, and co-sponsored by twenty-three other pro-2A 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 is a direct response to infringements on the Second Amendment that occurred across the country and right here, in Alaska, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Firearms and access to them are critical to the Alaskan way of life. The bill fell short of passage by just 2 votes on the final day of the legislative session.
SB 136 had unanimously passed the Senate on March 16, 2022 and spent nearly two-months in the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee before receiving its passing vote of 5-2, on May 17, 2022. The House Companion bill, House Bill 179, sponsored by House Minority Leader Representative 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 then advanced to the House Floor where it needed a 3/4 vote to advance from second to third reading. The bill endured hours of spirited debate and a few amendments were offered, including an attempt by the sponsor of HB 203, to add 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 Representative Sara Rasmussen was adopted. This amendment 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, procedurally. The final vote was 28-12.
The NRA would like to thank the pro-2A legislators who worked to advance this critical legislation, those who stood up against the anti-gun legislators throughout the legislative process, and those who worked to procedurally advance this bill to the Floor after anti-gun legislators attempted to stall its progress. The NRA would like to send a special thank you Senator Rob Myers (R- Fairbanks) and Minority Leader Representative Cathy Tilton (R – Wasilla), both 2A champions who sponsored the Emergency Powers bills and worked with leadership on both sides of the aisle to recognize that the right to keep and bear arms is bi-partisan and fundamental to Alaskans’ way of life.
Thank you to those legislators who supported our Second Amendment rights by supporting SB 136 and opposing HB 203. Also, thank you to NRA Members and Second Amendment supporters who stayed in constant contact with their legislators in regards to these measures. Now that the Legislature has adjourned, NRA looks toward the 2022 Primary and General Elections to ensure that our Second Amendment rights are protected.