Parnell Signs Bills, Resolutions Supporting Gun Rights

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage.
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

Governor Sean Parnell signed a package of bills and resolutions today supporting gun rights. The signing took place at the Matanuska Valley Sportsman’s Shooting Range, near Palmer. Parnell says he wants to send message.

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“The resolutions, the legislation we sign today are our declaration that we are strong supporters here in the last frontier of our second amendment,” Parnell said.

One of the most controversial bills is Alaska’s version of a “Stand Your Ground” bill.It allows a person to use deadly force if they’re in a situation where they feel threatened, as long as they’re not trespassing. In the past, you had an obligation to retreat if you could do so safely. The Governor says the bill just reinforces the rights of law abiding citizens.

“I was asked a couple of questions earlier just before signing the bill about concerns raised about why, with all the people running around with guns doing bad things, why this legislation was important,” Parnell said. “And, frankly, I thought, that’s exactly why this legislation was important.”

“And we’re talking about a law-abiding citizen’s right to stand his or her ground.”

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage.
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

Representative Mark Neuman, a Big Lake Republican, sponsored the bill. Neuman tried to get nearly identical versions of the bill passed in 2010 and 2011. The Department of Law, at the time had concerns, saying it would, “encourage unnecessary violence in our state” and that such a law could, “legalize and authorize vigilantism.

“Trayvon Martin was not a clean cut young man. He had a history. So I’m not so sure that there wasn’t some mischief that he had proved himself capable of and may have been gettin’ ready to take place. But I wasn’t there. But what happened with Trayvon Martin has no bearing, in my estimation, on what we’re doing in Alaska,” Senate President Charlie Huggins, who represents the Mat-Su, said when asked if he was concerned that the Stand Your Ground Law might spur cases such as the 2012 Trayvon Martin Case in Florida.

Martin, 17, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer who is claiming self-defense, pending a second-degree murder trial which is about to begin. In addition to the stand your ground law, the governor signed a law clarifying that hunting and utility knives do not qualify as switchblades, and two other bills and two resolutions which fight what he called, “federal overreach.” The new laws go into effect 90 days from their signing. The resolutions will be sent to the White House.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.