The state House passed a controversial measure criminalizing federal enforcement of some gun laws in Alaska Monday, highlighting lawmakers’ interest in addressing perceived federal overreach throughout the state.
House Bill 69, which was sponsored by House Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), passed on a 31-5 vote. As initially proposed, it would make any attempt by a federal employee to enforce new gun restrictions a misdemeanor in the state -- but the substitute version of the bill passed by the House Monday upgraded the charge to a class C felony.
"I can't believe that anybody is going to try and follow this, and I don't think rational people would," said Rep. Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage). "I'm concerned somebody somewhere, will try and make a test case out of it."
Opponents say the bill could put Alaska law enforcement officers at risk of going to prison for enforcing the new law, because they would be interfering with the duties of a federal officer.
"I can't tell you right now whether it's valid right or not," said Chenault. "There was arguments that it was unconstitutional, the courts decide whether legislation is unconstitutional."
The bill amends the Alaska Firearms Freedom Act, passed by the 26th Legislature, which exempts firearms, accessories and ammunition manufactured in Alaska from all federal firearm control laws.
The measure was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee Monday. It now goes to the Senate.
Editor's note: This story has been revised to state that the substitute version of the bill passed would make federal officials' enforcement of new gun laws in Alaska a felony.
Channel 2’s Adam Pinsker contributed information to this story.
Contact Chris Klint