I grew up with guns. I got a .22 rifle for my ninth birthday that I still have and love. I have put thousands and thousands of rounds through that rifle and used it to kill more than a couple of cute little animals that wound up on a dinner table. I am a member of a “sportsman” group so I can get a discount at the indoor shooting range when it’s too cold to go shoot outside. I have 4 guns in my house right now, and grew up in a house with around a dozen different rifles, shotguns and handguns. I am really looking forward to recently elected Anchorage assemblyman Dick Traini’s big machine gun shootout fundraiser.
Now that I have said all of that it is pretty obvious that I am going to say something against guns, so here it goes…
The state Legislature has passed a measure exempting from federal gun regulations firearms, accessories and ammunition made and kept instate. The so-called “Alaska Firearms Freedom Act,” sponsored by Fairbanks Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, passed the Senate Friday. It now goes to the governor. It is another effort to assert state rights over federal regulations. The firearms in question also must have “Made in Alaska” stamped on them.
HB 186 was one of those bills that I heard about before the session started and laughed. I thought it would be like Mike Chenault’s renewed efforts to bring back the death penalty, something to score a few political points that would never even make it out of committee. I didn’t pay any attention to it at all, so I was very surprised when I logged on to the ADN website tonight and saw that it had passed.
The bill basically says that any firearms, accessories and ammo made in the state of Alaska are not subject to any federal restrictions so long as they are kept in the state and stamped with Made in Alaska. The argument is that the only jurisdiction the feds have over firearms is through the interstate commerce clause of The Constitution. Now that the bill has passed, a company can make and sell any type of firearms in the state of Alaska as long as they will remain in the state.
You need a machine gun but don’t want to go through the hassle of registering it with the government and paying the taxes that are required now if you want to buy one through a licensed dealer? Well you don’t have to worry about that anymore in Alaska. Your friendly neighborhood gunsmith can now build you all sorts of fun new toys that are currently restricted, machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns, pen guns, disguised firearms, silencers and last but not least destructive devices, like grenade launchers or rocket launchers.
As much fun as it would probably be to play with a few of those, I’m not sure making them legal is the best idea. Most of them have no practical use for anything but killing people, and there is a small but growing segment of Alaskans who will want them because of it. Every day there are new stories in the national media about militia groups sprouting up around the country preparing to do battle against the federal government when the time comes. A lot of these groups are probably already armed with the weapons that this bill would make legal in Alaska, but the fact that they are currently illegal is a great tool for law enforcement to bring down some of these groups before they have the chance to kill anyone.
In 2002 Norman Olson moved to Alaska from Michigan. Mr. Olson was the founder of the infamous Michigan Militia, the guys who helped train Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols. He was leader of the militia, until he was basically thrown out for being too extreme. So he packed his bags and headed for greener pastures in Nikiski. Over the last year he has taken advantage of anti-government (aka anti-black president) sentiments and started the Alaska Citizens Militia. One of his co-founders in the Alaska militia was Schaeffer Cox, a Fairbanks gun enthusiast/activist who has been arrested twice in March, the first time for beating his wife and the second for a weapons charge after a kind of weird run in with police.
These are the guys who are going to be first in line to buy the newly legal weapons after Sean Parnell signs this bill into law. I’m sure there will be plenty of law abiding citizens who will buy Made in Alaska guns, but they can already buy most of them legally now if they go through the federal process. This law only serves to make it easier for those who currently can’t get through the federal process to own these guns and easier for everyone to stockpile them