Alaska’s Absurd Felon Firearm Laws

The National Rifle Association has told us endlessly that “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Which causes WC to ask why the NRA and its enthusiasts in the Alaska Legislature are pressing so hard to put firearms in the hands of convicted felons, domestic violence offenders and drug dealers.

Felon firearm possession is governed by two bodies of law: state law and federal law. In Alaska, for the last 15 years, the law has provided a felon may possess a firearm if:

A period of 10 years or more has elapsed between the date of the person’s unconditional discharge on the prior offense or adjudication of juvenile delinquency and the date of the violation of (a)(1) of this section, and the prior conviction or adjudication of juvenile delinquency did not result from a violation of AS 11.41 or of a similar law of the United States or of another state or territory

The practical effect of limiting permanent denial to AS 11.41 – crimes against the person – is that there is no obstacle to pimps, gang members, and domestic violence offenders getting their firearms back in ten years. Or sooner, if the NRA gets its way. Because those crimes don’t arise under AS 11.41. Pimping arises under AS 11.66. Gang membership crimes are under AS 11.61. Even weapons misconduct – use of a firearm in committing some crimes, for example – doesn’t result in permanent loss odd the right to carry firearms. Domestic violence crimes aren’t even under Title 11.

A sensible Legislature would amend Alaska law to address crimes of violence beyond AS 11.41. Why should gun-wielding gang members be entitled to recover their right to carry a firearm when someone who punches someone with a fist can’t? But, of course, this is an NRA issue, so logic doesn’t enter into it. Public safety doesn’t enter in to it. The problem is hardly limited to Alaska; a long New York Times article documents the extent of the problem.

It’s probably too much to hope that sanity will prevail. But WC does.


One thought on “Alaska’s Absurd Felon Firearm Laws

  1. WC: As always, you make some good points (though “crime of domestic violence” is such a nebulous and unwieldy term that creates alllllll sorts of problems, especially in the evidentiary realm), but I think its also worth noting that when you real-world it, federalism would most likely rear its head to save the day in favor of sanity.

    While it doesn’t solve your pimping dillemma, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) does make it unlawful for any person “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence…to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.” Similarly, § 922(g)(8) imposes the same prohibition on those subject to DVROs, while 922(g)(1) prohibits gun ownership if you smoke dope (another thorny federalism issue for another discussion). Unlike when someone is convicted of a non-DV felony and subsequently has their civil rights restored, these prohibitions remain in effect for life.

    On another, more hair-pulling note, AS 11.61.200(a)(1) (the felon-in-possession statute) only applies to those weapons capable of being concealed on the person. Wanna tote a shotgun? Have at it, just make sure it’s not sawed-off.

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