Alaska gets D on gun laws to protect kids

Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2000

A national gun control group has again given Alaska a D minus for failing to properly protect children from guns.

In its fourth annual analysis of state laws protecting youths from gun violence, Handgun Control Inc. announced Wednesday that Alaska received the near-failing grade for the 1999-2000 school year.

Alaska maintained its 1999 grade of D- because it allows the carrying of concealed weapons, has no child access prevention law, has no law regulating the sale or transfer of a firearm to a juvenile, and prohibits lawsuits against the gun industry, HCI said.

"Under title 11, you can't transfer a firearm to an individual under 16, so we do have a law addressing that," said Lt. David Hudson of the Alaska State Troopers. Hudson is responsible for the concealed handgun permitting program.

"Basically, as troopers, we enforce the laws promoted by the citizens through the Legislature; so we have nothing to do with these issues either way," Hudson said.

In 1997, 23 children and teen-agers in Alaska died as the result of incidents involving firearms. Between 1999 and 1997, 165 Alaskan children and adolescents were fatally shot and another 222 injured sufficiently to require hospitalization, according to the state medical association.

Alaska was not alone in its poor showing. HCI awarded grades of D or F to a total of 25 states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Only three states New York, Maryland and New Hampshire improved their grades, in most cases with new gun laws that mandate gun industry and gunowner responsibility.

According to the state medical association, one of every 20 adults in Alaska has both firearms and kids in the house, and some of those firearms are loaded and unlocked.

HCI, based in Washington, D.C., works with law enforcement, public health and community groups to strengthen and protect federal, state and local gun control laws.

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