The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted on June 16 to introduce an ordinance that would establish the area as a Second Amendment sanctuary. Written by Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce the ordinance was approved for introduction at the next Assembly meeting on July 7.
Two of the seven Assembly members opposed even introducing the measure, which they believed was ill defined and unnecessary given that federal and state constitutions already protect Second Amendment rights. Assembly Members Willy Dunne and Hal Smalley said they support gun rights but don’t think a borough ordinance is the best way to strengthen those protections.
Dunne worried the ordinance could bind future Assembly bodies to oppose any restrictions or tighter gun control regulations.
“As the mayor I brought this forward because of the request from many of your constituents and mine as well. Of course, I know they are paying attention.”
“To have a blanket policy as a permanent law on the books that we will oppose any legislation in a vague manner … I just can’t support this as an ordinance,” he said, adding that he would prefer it to be a nonbinding resolution.
Smalley expressed similar sentiments, claiming ordinance didn’t clearly spell out how a Second Amendment sanctuary city would operate when it came to gun control legislation.
Mayor Pierce defended his ordinance, saying the Assembly could always amend and clarify it during the public debate period.
“You either agree with the Second Amendment or you don’t,” Pierce said. “This ordinance should not prevent you from supporting introduction and having a conversation with your constituents as it relates to their desire to have another layer – another piece of paper or document.”
He added: “As the mayor I brought this forward because of the request from many of your constituents and mine as well. Of course, I know they are paying attention.”
The measure begins by quoting the U.S. and State Constitutions, both of which affirm: “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.” It also notes that Alaska’s Constitution adds, “The individual’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State.”
Pierce said his measure provides another level of protection should the state ever adopt a law that violates the Second Amendment.
“Nationally we see everyday attempts to infringe on this constitutional right,” Pierce told the Watchman a few hours before the meeting. “Through these infringements, there have been a number of communities throughout the United States that have followed suit. They have drafted ordinances to provide another level of protection.”
The proposed ordinance references an Alaska law passed in 2013, which prohibits state and local governments from implementing federal laws or regulations that infringe on a person’s right to bear arms. Pierce said his measure provides another level of protection should the state ever adopt a law that violates the Second Amendment.
The ordinance does not address any immediate concerns about the right to bear arms, but Anchorage Democrat Geran Tarr recently proposed a controversial bill that would have allowed the state to confiscate firearms from a person without following due process. The bill failed to gain any legislative traction and died in committee this year. It originally sought to allow family members to request the removal of a relative’s guns and was opposed by NRA because it did not respect due process.
“It is an example of what I’m talking about,” Pierce told the Watchman. “An attempt to create a state law that would infringe on my right to bear arms in my safe home.”
“Anything we can do to protect the Second Amendment is something that we should think about and should be doing,” Assembly Member Blakely said.
Assembly Member Norm Blakely told his colleagues that he supported introducing the ordinance, especially in light what has happened in Seattle where a section of the city has been taken over by protesters who have destroyed public and private property.
“I look at Seattle, five or six years ago would we have ever thought that there would be a bunch of people who would go over and take over a sector of a large city like Seattle and run the police out and take over that whole sector?” he asked.
Blakely said people should be empowered to protect their property and livelihood. “Anything we can do to protect the Second Amendment is something that we should think about and should be doing,” he added.
The vote to introduce the ordinance for public debate on July 7 was approved by Assembly Members Brent Hibbert, Jesse Bjorkman, Tyson Cox, Norm Blakely, Ken Carpenter, Brent Johnson and Kelly Cooper.