The Alaska chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the Alaska legislature ended the legislative session after failing to advance the gun lobby’s biggest priority in the state: SB 136, legislation designed to tie the hands of state and local officials who try to address gun safety during disaster emergencies in the state.
“This is a victory for gun safety,” said Rochelle Parker, a volunteer with the Alaska chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Although we are glad to see this proposal fail, next session we hope lawmakers dedicate less energy to bills that put our communities at risk and more on life-saving measures such as secure storage so that one day our state won’t rank the second-highest in gun deaths in the country.”
During the discussion about SB 136, lawmakers and local leaders also talked about the need for secure storage legislation and education. Throughout the session, volunteers sent over 300 messages to lawmakers in support of gun safety including a life-saving secure storage bill and secure storage education. In February, they even hosted an advocacy week at the statehouse to work with lawmakers.
Here’s what the lawmakers had to say during the floor debate on the importance of secure storage:
- Rep. Adam Wool (D-5): “The leading cause of death for children and teens 1-19 is guns. Many many incidents have happened in Alaska where kids are playing with guns that are unlocked and they accidentally kill themselves or others or their neighborhood, or hurt or wound themselves. It’s a tragedy….Very well-meaning and responsible people have accidentally left their guns out and tragedies have ensued. By implementing a safe storage education program, it would hopefully get more people to use safe storage.”
- Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-16): “Most gun owners – like those of us in this room who own guns – are safe gun owners. We take responsibility to make sure they’re out of reach of our children. But what we’re trying to do is get beyond those folks. We’re trying to get to the public who might not be aware of the risk. For me, this is about representing my district. In 2017, a 5 year-boy in my district found a gun and killed himself accidentally. This was a gun that wasn’t safely stored. In the previous three years before this, 5 other children died from unsafely stored guns.”
- Rep. Harriett Drummond (D-18): “A very large number of suicides in Alaska are accomplished with a gun. I think we need to take advantage of [the research that’s been done] for decades and put it to work and make sure our children stay alive.”
Next session, lawmakers should build on the success of this session and push proactive bills to address the gun violence epidemic in the state with measures such as extreme risk and secure storage laws that will address the rising rate of gun violence – particularly gun suicide – in the state.
Alaska ranks 39 in the country for gun law strength. The gun violence in the state not only costs lives but also over a billion dollars every year. Statistics about gun violence in Alaska are available here. Everytown’s interactive gun law platform — which shows the direct correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of gun deaths — is available here. To ask questions or request an interview with a volunteer from Alaska Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.