Alaska gun bill threatens federal agents with arrest

 

The Anchorage Daily News

House Speaker Mike Chenault says federal law enforcement officers should be arrested in Alaska if they attempt to enforce any future federal law banning personal possession of assault rifles or large ammunition clips or if they attempt to register any Alaska firearm.

On Wednesday, just as President Obama was announcing new firearm-control initiatives in the aftermath of the child murders at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Chenault offered his countermeasure in House Bill 69.

His bill would extend the reach of a law passed in 2010 by asserting that any firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition possessed by anyone in Alaska was not subject to federal law. The 2010 law only covered firearms and ammo manufactured in Alaska and it already was of dubious constitutional validity, though it's never been challenged because no firearm is known to have been manufactured here since then.

In addition to adding the word "possession" to the 2010 law, Chenault's bill declares that any "federal statute, regulation, rule or order" taking effect after passage of House Bill 69 would be invalid in Alaska if it restricted semi-automatic firearms or magazines. The bill also declares invalid any future registration scheme involving firearms, magazines or other firearm accessory.

Any federal agent who attempted to enforce those future federal laws would be subject to prosecution by the state on misdemeanor charges.

"Well, this is interesting," said Karen Loeffler, the U.S. Attorney for Alaska and the chief federal law enforcement official in the state. She declined to comment further until she could study the bill.

Chenault's bill is reminiscent of the battles that Alaskan Independence Party founder Joe Vogler picked with federal officials. But Vogler, who was murdered in 1993, never served in the Legislature.

House Bill 69 already has three cosponsors: Reps. Charisse Millett and Craig Johnson, both Anchorage Republicans, and Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole.

Chenault didn't return a call left on his cellphone. In a prepared statement emailed to reporters Wednesday, he said his measure was in the works before Obama's announcement. He said Obama was pulling on "emotional heartstrings" to weaken Second Amendment protections.

The 2010 law, sponsored by former Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, was one of a number of similar bills heard in legislatures around the country that purported to circumvent present or future federal gun laws. It asserted that the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, used for decades by Congress to regulate industry and other activities, had no effect when a firearm was manufactured, sold and used solely within Alaska's boundaries.

But even before the law passed, serious questions were raised about its validity. In a memorandum to Rep. Lindsey Holmes, then an Anchorage Democrat and now a Republican, Legislative Counsel Gerald Luckhaupt said the bill would not prevent federal authorities from prosecuting someone under federal law. He cited a landmark case in which the Supreme Court said that a California man who possessed a machine gun he made himself could not escape federal prosecution because guns are so easily transported across state lines.

Now Chenault is proposing to go further, asserting in House Bill 69 that gun possession in Alaska removes the effect of the interstate commerce clause.

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
A portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un posing with a North Korean gold medalist in Judo, An Kum Ae, decorates the walls of a local gymnasium, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. In just over a week, North Korea will send its top athletes to win gold for their leader in what could well be the biggest sporting event of their lives and a major propaganda campaign for their nation, the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

    North Korea athletes on mission for political gold

    It's a hot, sunny morning at the newly refurbished Sosan Football Stadium in Pyongyang. Two women's soccer teams head to the sidelines of the artificial turf, leaving only a row of archers to continue their practice before several senior sports ministry officials. So sure are they of their aim — or, perhaps, so impromptu is the decision to have them shoot here — that there are no barriers behind the targets, posted on simple squares of straw.

  • 6 candidates in running for equestrian presidency

    Six candidates — all from Europe — are in the running to replace Princess Haya of Jordan as president of the International Equestrian Federation.

  •  
FILE - This Aug. 12, 2014 file photo shows a healthcare worker walking near a Ebola isolation unit wearing protective gear against the virus at Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Federal researchers next week will start testing humans with an experimental vaccine to prevent the deadly Ebola virus. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Thursday that it is launching the safety trial on a vaccine developed by the agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline. They will test 20 healthy adult volunteers to see if the virus is safe and triggers an adequate response in their immune systems.

    Ivory Coast will allow Sierra Leone team in

    The Ivory Coast government decided late Monday to allow Sierra Leone's team to enter the country, giving the go-ahead for an African Cup qualifier after fears over Ebola put the game and Ivory Coast's place in the tournament in doubt.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category