Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy Signs New Gun Store Closure Bill into Law

'This bill is not just legislation; it's a protective shield for our fundamental rights during states of emergency,' said a spokesperson for the NRA

Governor Mike Dunleavy of Alaska has signed a new law that prohibits state or local governments from shutting down gun stores during disasters unless all other businesses are also being forced to close.

House Bill 61 is backed by gun control advocates and interest groups, including the National Rifle Association. The bill was signed into law on July 29.

The governor said firearms “are an integral part of the Alaskan way of life.”

“We use them for protection and to feed our families, so during an emergency our Second Amendment rights become more important then ever,” said Dunleavy to the media, per WFIN. “This bill reflects the constitutional right Alaskans have to keep and bear arms by protecting access to both firearms and ammunition when Alaskans need it the most.”

“Today is a remarkable day for Alaskans, NRA members, and Second Amendment advocates,” Aoibheann Cline, the NRA Alaska State Director, told Fox News. “A decade has passed since the last major pro-Second Amendment legislation, House Bill 24, was signed into law on April 11, 2013, reinforcing our ‘Stand Your Ground’ rights. Now … we witness another significant milestone.”

“This bill is not just legislation; it’s a protective shield for our fundamental rights during states of emergency, reinforcing the core principles of the Second Amendment we deeply respect and uphold,” continued Cline. “Today is indeed a great victory for all freedom-loving Alaskans.”

HB 61 was passed by the Alaskan Senate in May following a 17-3 vote and by the House 28-12.

The policy, championed by House Speaker Cathy Tilton, is seen as a corrective step in response to business closures enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I felt it important to expressly codify this in statutes because there actually had been a gun store closure in Alaska’s largest city during the pandemic,” Tilton told the Washington Examiner in May. “It was a personal priority to prevent that from happening again.”

“HB 61 only adds to the Alaska Legislature’s lengthy history of protecting Alaskan’s 2A rights and I’m honored to be able to add to that legacy,” she added.

The bill was not universally embraced. State Senator Jesse Kiehl argued that HB 61 elevated “in Alaska law, the second amendment above all the rest of rights,” per Alaska News Source.

The legislation “states that in situations in which a governor has declared a disaster emergency, the governor, state agencies or municipalities cannot issue orders barring people from possessing or using guns or other weapons for personal use or issue orders that limit the sale of guns, ammunition or other weapons for personal use,” per AP News.

The governor of Alaska can declare a disaster emergency for no longer than 30 days if he finds a disaster has occurred, is imminent, or is threatened. The disaster emergency can only be extended with support from the legislature.

The NRA endorsed Dunleavy in July of 2022 ahead of the Alaskan primary, giving him an “A” rating and commending him for his “excellent record on critical Second Amendment issues.”

“Mike Dunleavy has demonstrated steadfast support for our Second Amendment freedoms,” said Jason Ouimet, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, in a statement. “He has worked tirelessly to secure Alaska’s rich hunting heritage and defend our Constitutional right to self-defense. … We can count on Mike Dunleavy to protect the rights of Alaska’s law-abiding gun owners.”

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