Howard Delo

We are definitely into the political season here in Alaska! At both the local and state levels, things are happening which could be detrimental to your rights as a gun owner and shooter. The local issue deals with shooting ranges while the state issue involves a so-called “red flag” law proposal. Let’s start with the local issue.

Back in September 2019, the Borough Assembly signed a resolution directing staff to develop a conditional use permit process for any future commercial, educational, and nonprofit outdoor shooting ranges. The proposed ordinance specifies set-back distances from property lines and buildings, berm heights and locations in relation to the firing line, tolerable noise levels, and other details. A lot of people think this ordinance, as written, is too restrictive and will prevent any future shooting range development in the Valley.

Enough people object to the proposed ordinance that a “protest” is planned at the Borough building this Friday, Jan. 31 from noon until 5 pm. I know several folks who plan to attend the protest to let the Borough know they think the government agency is overstepping its regulatory authority by essentially creating restrictions which would eliminate future range development.

I don’t know that much about the research that went into developing this proposed ordinance. I do know that the National Rifle Association has developed specific guidelines for building outdoor shooting ranges. It’s my understanding that these guidelines were used when the Mat Valley Sportsmen’s indoor shooting range expanded and built their outside 50- and 100-yard ranges a few years ago.

I would hope the folks at the Borough reviewed these guidelines in the course of writing the proposed ordinance. Discussion on the proposed ordinance can be found online at www.matsugov.us/projects/2019-12-17-19-19-59. Off to the right of the discussion is a link to the draft code ordinance for public comment. You can submit written comments on the draft code ordinance to the Mt-Su Borough Permit Center by January 31, 2020.

The state level concern is HB 62, introduced by Rep. Tarr. I’m not an attorney so I don’t understand a lot of the legalese involved in this bill. I don’t know how closely this bill follows other “red flag” laws in other states. I understand the bill is well intentioned in that it seeks to protect folks who might be endangered by some vindictive or mentally ill person out to “get” them.

However, most of these other Lower 48 “red flag” laws are ripe for abuse in the way a person can become the subject of a red flag order. The fact that personal property can be confiscated without “due process of law” can potentially be a violation of a person’s constitutional rights. Trying to write a law that protects one person’s rights without violating the rights of another person is a very difficult if not impossible task. Better legal minds than mine will need to sift this matter out for a proper resolution.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Fish and Wildlife Commission is holding a workshop Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, from about 6 pm until 7:30 pm in the borough assembly chambers. The FWC has submitted five proposals to the Board of Fisheries for consideration and are designed to return more salmon to their natal streams in the Matanuska-Susitna basin.

This work session will provide the public with information and an understanding of how to navigate the complex subject of salmon management as it relates to Upper Cook Inlet and give one the tools to make a difference for salmon at the BOF meeting.

The Upper Cook Inlet BOF meeting gets underway next Friday, Feb. 7 at the Egan Center in Anchorage. Public testimony has always been a burden for folks coming in from out of town and for folks with jobs because of the uncertainty of when a person would testify. This year, the board has changed the public testimony procedure.

You don’t need to be present on Friday to sign up for testimony (sign up ends at 3 pm) if someone you know is present and willing to sign you up.

You can opt to testify either Saturday morning or afternoon, or Sunday morning or afternoon. Those not called by lunch break in the morning will be called first when the meeting resumes after lunch and those who signed up for the afternoon will be able to testify before the meeting breaks for the evening. This should greatly facilitate the travelers and job holders in being able to present the BOF with their thoughts on various proposals.

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