Alaska House passes bill challenging federal gun restrictions
BY LISA DEMER
JUNEAU, Alaska — In a chamber dotted with female legislators wearing new camo scarves, the Alaska state House on Monday passed a gun measure that is wildly popular among the GOP-controlled Legislature even though it raises serious constitutional issues.
House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, is the prime sponsor of House Bill 69, which passed 31-5 on Monday after a lengthy and impassioned debate.
It declares that guns and ammunition possessed by Alaskans are exempt from federal gun laws. It also subjects federal agents to felony charges if they try to enforce any future federal ban on semi-automatic weapons or ammunition or enforce any new federal requirement for gun registration.
A legal opinion from a legislative lawyer said the measure likely is unconstitutional. When federal and state laws conflict, the U.S. Constitution declares that federal law is supreme, legislative counsel Kathleen Strasbaugh wrote in a Jan. 30 memorandum.
Republicans said they are willing to let the courts sort out the issues. They said that they must stand up for Second Amendment gun rights and won’t bow down to the federal government on this. A number said they heard from constituents who back the bill.