The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed ordinance that opposes passage of any legislation restricting “individual rights protected by the second amendment” of the U.S. Constitution. The ordinance would also declare the borough a Second Amendment “sanctuary.”
The ordinance is sponsored by assembly members Kenn Carpenter, Norm Blakeley, Jesse Bjorkman and Mayor Charlie Pierce.
In a June 25 memo, assembly president, Kelly Cooper proposed adding language to the ordinance acknowledging the borough does not have criminal law enforcement powers.
“This means (the borough) would not be in a position to prevent law enforcement officials from enforcing criminal laws relating to firearms,” Cooper wrote in the memo.
She also offered amendments seeking to clarify other language, including noting that public assets would reference borough-owned assets and excluding cities within the borough so they could choose whether or not to adopt similar ordinances or resolutions.
“I have heard a number of comments regarding this ordinance that show people are not familiar with the limited scope of the borough’s authority in this arena and intend that these amendments at least clarify some of those limitations,” Cooper said in her memo.
At the June 16 assembly meeting, the assembly voted seven to two to introduce the ordinance and schedule a public hearing.
Kalifornsky resident Carrie Henson spoke at the June 16 meeting, saying sanctuary resolutions from local governments are ineffective.
“This ordinance is a waste of time because it will never hold up in court,” Henson said. “This is just another politically motivated move from our local elected officials that stand firmly on the far right. Move on and get to more important business.”
Greg Sutter of Fritz Creek also spoke at the June 16 assembly meeting. He said he supports the Second Amendment and that responsible gun ownership is “extremely important.”
“I was concerned there was no mention about gun safety,” Sutter said. “… Safety being absent from this ordinance — I think we should stress firearm safety.”
At the meeting, Sutter said a stray bullet went through his house while he was quarantining April 21. He said the bullet went through a window at his house, and that he filed a report with Alaska State Troopers. The incident was not a first in his neighborhood, he said.
“I can deal with stray cats,” Sutter said. “I can deal with stray dogs, but I cannot deal with stray bullets.”
After members of the public spoke, the assembly discussed whether or not to introduce the ordinance.
Assembly member Blakeley said he’s been looking at Seattle, where protesters recently set up a “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone. The zone, which was organized when police abandoned a precinct in the area following protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, was emptied by police Thursday.
“I think about five or six years ago, would we have ever thought that there would be a bunch of people that 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 and do what they’ve done with it,” Blakeley said during the meeting.
“I support this because I think our communities and what’s going on with our country, and all the conflicts going on with it, that anything we can do to protect the Second Amendment is something we should think about. They’re talking about defunding the police, the military, everything. I just want to say that people really need to think about where this is going and where it is coming from.”
Assembly member Brent Johnson said he was “a little taken aback” by Blakeley’s comments.
“What would he have those folks in Seattle do? They certainly have Second Amendment rights there,” Johnson said. “Do you suggest they shoot the people who have taken over these blocks of the city?”
Blakeley said he “really resents what Mr. Johnson said” and responded that he had “no intent in thinking that.” He said he does think he has a right to protect his property and family.
“If I owned a piece of property within that section and I didn’t have any right to come in and defend myself and defend my property because people want to do things like that, I think this type of an amendment would help people understand that,” Blakeley said.
Assembly member Hal Smalley expressed some concerns about the proposed ordinance, saying he didn’t understand why it was introduced and what the goal of the legislation was. He said all it does is declare the borough a Second Amendment sanctuary, but does not explain what that is.
Assembly member Willy Dunne said the ordinance should be changed to a resolution, since ordinances are law-binding documents. He called for the ordinance’s sponsors to define what a Second Amendment sanctuary is. Dunne said as a gun owner, he would “probably” support a resolution upholding the Second Amendment.
“The fact it’s not in borough code, it’s just a statement of intent, makes it much more appropriate for a resolution,” Dunne said.
The assembly will vote on the ordinance and hold a public hearing at their 6 p.m. July 7 assembly meeting. The meeting will be held through Zoom, using the Meeting ID: 128 871 931. To join the meeting from a computer, visit https://zoom.us/j/128871931. To attend the Zoom meeting by telephone call 1-888-788-0099 or 1877-853-5247 and enter the Meeting ID: 128 871 931.