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Alaska legislature passes bill preventing gun shop closures during emergency declarations

People living in rural communities do not have access to supermarkets and rely on hunting.

Control de armas, pistola


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Legislators in the Alaska House and Senate passed a bill to prevent authorities from forcing gun stores to close in the event of any declared emergency.

Project 61 was sponsored by Republican state House Speaker Cathy Tilton and was approved in the Senate by a vote of 17-3 and in the House by a vote of 28 to 12. The bill now heads to Governor Mike Dunleavy to be signed into law.

The legislative proposal states that firearms and ammunition sales hours cannot be shortened or limited during a disaster unless the government establishes the same parameters for all businesses.

State Senator Bill Wielechowski explained that this project is essential for Alaskans because many depend on hunting as a way of life. “We have many people who live in rural communities and don’t have access to grocery stores. For many people in rural Alaska, going to [an] ammo shop is essentially going for subsistence hunt and [to] provide for their families. So shutting down the firearm retailers … and saying we can keep grocery stores open, [...] that’s just not realistic in Alaska,” he said.

The debate on whether gun shops should be considered essential businesses became a major issue when the coronavirus health emergency was declared, as during that time, many businesses were pushed to close temporarily, which affected citizens.

Senator Scott Kawasaki recalled that in the past, while gun stores remained closed, cannabis and alcohol stores were allowed to open.