How Does Alaska Law Protect My Right to Keep and Bear Arms?
Alaskans' Right to Keep and Bear Arms is enshrined in the Alaska Constitution, Article I, Section 19: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State.” Federal and state courts have held that constitutional guarantees to “keep and bear arms” don't stop states from regulating firearms, such as (1) requiring registration of handguns, (2) banning certain kinds of guns, (3) banning concealed weapons, and (4) banning convicted felons from possessing firearms.
Can I Carry a Concealed Handgun in Alaska?
Carrying a concealed weapon is not constitutionally-protected, but that's not to say it's necessarily illegal. Actually, Alaska is a permitless concealed carry state which is rather extraordinary. That is, Alaska's laws do not prohibit someone who is at least 21-years old, and who may otherwise legally possess a firearm, from carrying that firearm “concealed” or “open.” While a concealed handgun permit is not required to conceal carry, there are other general restrictions on where a firearm may be carried (try carrying one into your local courthouse and find out!). A few of Alaska's sister states have laws that do allow 18, 19 and 20 year-olds to have concealed-carry permits, but despite reciprocity laws, those out-of-state permits do not override Alaska laws; thus, a person under 21 is simply never allowed to carry a concealed handgun in Alaska. According to the State of Alaska's Department of Public Safety, an Alaska Concealed Handgun Permit (ACHP) is only available to Alaska residents. Since an ACHP is not technically required to conceal carry, it is just a matter of choice whether to obtain one before carrying a concealed weapon. A good reason, however, to get the Alaska ACHP is for traveling to other states.
Can I Use an Alaska Concealed Carry Permit in Other States?
Alaska and 38 other states have a reciprocal agreement to allow residents in those states to travel to the other state and the issuing state's concealed carry permit will be honored. The states that do NOT honor a concealed carry permit issued in Alaska are: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and our nation's capital Washington D.C. All other states will respect your Alaska ACHP so long as you follow their other laws. Again, a few states permit someone just 18 years old to have a concealed carry permit, but if they brought it to Alaska it would be illegal because you must be at least 21 years old to have such a permit here. If you plan to travel to one of the 38 states who will honor your Alaska ACHP, it would be wise to review that state's laws which you can find by clicking on this LINK.
How Can I Get a Permit to Carry Concealed in Alaska?
By the act of submitting an application for a concealed handgun in Alaska, you acknowledge that you have read and understood the Alaska state laws and regulations relating to concealed handgun permits. The Alaska statutes which are relevant are found at Alaska statutes 18.65.700 — 18.65.790. The relevant Alaska regulations are found in the Alaska Administrative Code (AAC) at 13.30.010 — 13 AAC 30.900. You must be a resident of our state for at least 90 days immediately preceding submitting your application for a concealed handgun. Your residence address is the physical location of your home or another place where you habitually live and must include a house or apartment number and ZIP Code. Although you are not required to provide your telephone number you might reduce your application processing time if you do in case you made an error on the application. You must also submit a professional fingerprint card which can be obtained locally in Kenai at VIP Alaska, Inc. at 2785 Beaver Loop Road (335-1935). Tell Cliff that Eric sent you!
You must apply in person for a concealed handgun at an office of the Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, or a municipal Police Department authorized to accept Alaska concealed handgun applications. At that time, you must show a valid Alaska driver's license or another identification card. Properly completed applications should be processed within 30 days of receipt. A non-refundable application fee of about $95 must be paid. You must also submit a copy of a certificate showing successful completion of a handgun course approved by the Department of Public Safety within the last 12 months. Finally, one quality frontal view color photograph must also be submitted (which can also be obtained from VIP Alaska, Inc.). Click on the following link to get to the permit application to save time: LINK.
Can the State of Alaska Prevent My Right to Keep and Bear Arms if I have a Concealed Carry Permit?
Regardless whether you have a concealed carry permit, it is still illegal to possess a gun in a courthouse or on any school grounds (unless the person got permission from the head of administration of the school in advance), illegal to possess a gun in a bar or in a restaurant where alcohol is sold (unless you are not drinking), and illegal to possess a firearm on one's person or in a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. And, of course, it is illegal to possess a firearm at a domestic violence shelter or a licensed childcare facility. Further, even though there is no statute on point, there might be various administrative regulations which also prohibit firearms in the following places: parks, hospitals, places of worship, sports arenas, gambling facilities, or polling places. As well, private businesses may choose to prohibit the possession of firearms in areas beyond a security checkpoint where visitors or screen that do not include common areas of ingress and egress open the general public.
When Can I Possess a Concealed Handgun?
There are no restrictions when you can possess a concealed handgun, however, if approached by the police you must immediately notify them that you are carrying the weapon and allow them to secure the weapon during the contact or follow their directions for securing it. Also beware: you may not enter another's residence without first getting their permission to carry concealed in that residence. Alaska law will also enforce any “No Weapons” signs displayed in the front of a business. However, you may carry in Alaska state parks unless otherwise noted. It is worth noting that while a non-resident cannot obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun in Alaska, the permitless carry law still applies to non-residents while they are in Alaska so long as they are at least 21 years of age and can otherwise legally possess a firearm.
When, If Ever, Can a Felon Possess a Concealed Handgun In Alaska?
With some exceptions, 10 years after completing felony probation the state of Alaska no longer bans felons from possessing concealable firearms or living in a residence where there is a firearm capable of being concealed present. Also, a felon who is off probation may possess a shotgun or long rifle in Alaska, with some exceptions. These exceptions to which I referred are extremely important: the restoration of a felon's right to possess a firearm does not apply if the felon was convicted of any “crime against a person” under Alaska Statues 11.41.100 – 11.41.530. This is a huge exception because there are many felony “crimes against a person” under Alaska law. If you are not certain whether these laws apply to you, please consult an attorney who is familiar with the many federal and state gun laws.
What About Federal Law if I've Been Convicted of a Felony or Misdemeanor “Crime Involving Domestic Violence”?
Under federal law, which can be found at 18 United States Code, section 922 (18 USC sec. 922), there are numerous people who may not purchase or possess any firearms or ammunition. Included in these laws are (A) anyone convicted of a felony (which is a complicated subject with exceptions beyond which I can cover here), (B) anyone who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substances (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act), (C) anyone who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution, (D) anyone who was dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces, (E) anyone who is subject to a long-term domestic violence restraining order, and (F) anyone who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor “crime of domestic violence.”
Again, I cannot emphasize enough that this is a complex area of overlapping state and federal law. It is usually not a good idea to try to figure out on your own if these laws might apply to you unless you are specially trained in the law. I have read many Internet websites and find that many give flat-out inaccurate and bad advice about gun rights. For example, what exactly is a “crime of domestic violence”? What does it mean to be an “unlawful user of or addicted to” drugs? How can it be that a felon can have his gun rights restored someone who commits a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cannot?
What if Federal Law and Alaska State Law Conflict? Which One Must I Follow?
Under Alaska state law, someone convicted of a felony NOT involving a “crime against a person” can legally possess a firearm that is NOT concealable as soon as they are off probation. And, those same felons are permitted to possess any firearm including a concealable handgun after they are off probation for 10 years. (See Alaska statute 11.61.200(b)(1) and (2)) That should mean no Alaska law enforcement officer would arrest you if you were in compliance with Alaska statute 11.61.200; however, the federal government just might! The Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling in 1998 that upheld the federal conviction of a man in Massachusetts who was lawfully possessing a shotgun under state law where he lived. I say it was “lawful” because the only gun he could not possess was a handgun (which he was not). Nevertheless, he was charged under 18 USC 922(g)(1) for being a felon in possession of a firearm despite that his conduct was legal under Massachusetts law. The Supreme Court of the U.S. held that so long as there is any prohibition against the person possessing a firearm under any circumstances, while it might be legal and other circumstances, the federal law prohibits the person from possessing any firearm until all disabilities are removed. In other words, during the 10 years that a felon in Alaska may legally possess a long rifle or shotgun in Alaska after getting off probation, since they are not allowed to possess a handgun under state law, the federal law would be interpreted to deny them the right to possess even the rifle or shotgun. Again, this is a very complex area of law did not attempt to interpret it on your own. Instead, you should speak to a criminal attorney experienced in firearms and criminal defense law.
What About Local Laws and Ordinances?
Whether you may carry a concealed handgun in your car may depend on local ordinances (laws) which can vary from city to city in Alaska. If you are traveling to a new community and you are not familiar with their laws, a quick call to the local law enforcement might save you a lot of headaches. Although you would not be violating Alaska state law, violating a local ordinance can still land you in trouble because the local law may preempt the more liberal statewide law. Or, again, a consultation with a skilled lawyer might be your best bet.
Will Hiring a Criminal Lawyer Help Me Decide If I Can Own a Gun in Alaska?
Yes. A consultation with a skilled criminal lawyer in Anchorage, AK might save you a lot of time, energy and time in prison. Keep in mind that a lawyer is your legal advocate and must give you sound advice rather than telling you whatever they think you want to hear to get you to hire them. If you have any further questions about this topic, feel free to call my office in at 907.262.9164 or send me an email personally at [email protected]