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.
“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.”
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.