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Alaska Editorial: Pro-gunners have their own 'feel good' bills

Posted: January 27, 2013 - 12:12am

This editorial first ran in the Anchorage Daily News:

Critics of gun-control advocates sometimes accuse them of advancing “feel-good” legislation that won’t make us any safer but lets them believe they’re doing something.

Could well be. One of the strongest arguments against an assault weapons sales ban is that it simply won’t make much difference, especially in the near future, because there are so many weapons in circulation in the United States now. They also argue that the 10-year ban that expired in 2004 did little to affect gun violence. Agree or not, it’s a practical argument that aims to deal in facts.

But the gun-control foes indulge in their own “feel-good” legislation — witness Alaska House Bills 55 and 69.

Rep. Bob Lynn’s HB 55 would allow school districts to decide for themselves if they want to arm teachers or others for school security. Actually, Alaska law already provides a more liberal guns-on-campus policy for officials than would Lynn’s bill. So as a practical matter Lynn’s bill is more reaction than substance. And if he’s serious about having trained people carry the firepower, he should read former prosecutor Val Van Brocklin’s Monday Compass that takes a real-world look at the issue.

Speaker Mike Chenault’s HB 69 is more ambitious and heavily dosed with “Don’t Tread on Me.” That bill declares that Alaska won’t be bound by any future federal restrictions on firearms like semiautomatic rifles, large-capacity magazines or anything resembling gun registration. Further, officers of the state would be authorized to arrest any federal agent trying to enforce such laws.

Any Alaskan banking on state protection in the face of a federal firearms violation would likely have his rights read and his hands cuffed before he could say “Long live Wayne LaPierre.” The constitutionality of such laws, including one already on the books that only applies to guns made in Alaska, is doubtful.

One bill wasn’t well-vetted, the other is a chest-thumper that probably wouldn’t survive its first legal challenge. Neither advances an intelligent debate about guns, rights and responsibilities.

House bills shed no light on way to wise gun laws or a safer Alaska.

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