Alaska has some of the most permissive gun laws in the U.S., but if you intend to own a gun of any type, or carry the gun anywhere, whether concealed or open carry, you should know what those rules are. Also, remember that ignorance of the gun laws of other states is not a defense if you break state law. If you fly into Seattle from Anchorage for instance, and think that you can do what you are used to doing with your gun(s) in Alaska, you may be breaking Washington state weapons law and be arrested.
Alaska’s regulations on the sale and possession of firearms and ammunition
You do not need a permit to buy or own a firearm or ammunition of any quantity in Alaska. However, to make it easier to carry a firearm in another state, it is possible to obtain a permit in Alaska for your gun if you are 21 or over. This is not compulsory and the law in this respect is referred to by gun ownership advocates as ‘Alaska carry’ as opposed to ‘Vermont carry,’ which is the more usual arrangement in which permits for firearms are neither needed or issued.
In Alaska, you do not need a permit and there are no restrictions, such as licenses or registration, on the ownership of
- long guns, e.g. rifles;
- assault weapons.
You do not need a permit or license if you wish to openly carry your firearm or conceal it, except for the specific circumstances mentioned below. Background checks are not a legal requirement when it comes to a private sale of firearms or ammunition anywhere in Alaska.
Cities or local municipalities in the state can make their own rules about firearms but these cannot override state laws, effectively making local rules that are stricter than state laws invalid.
What you cannot do with respect to firearms in Alaska
Despite the lax nature of firearm laws in the state, there are still things that are illegal and carry penalties if abused. You are not allowed to:
- possess a firearm if a convicted felon and out on parole;
- own a firearm if under 16 and unemancipated, unless you have permission from your parents;
- carry a firearm in a school;
- carry a firearm anywhere where alcohol is on sale except in a restaurant where alcohol is available as long as you don’t drink any alcohol yourself;
- carry a firearm when intoxicated;
- possess a firearm in a courthouse, domestic violence shelter or licensed child care center;
- carry a firearm into a park ranger station;
- conceal a firearm without informing a police officer who approaches you;
- refuse to co-operate with a police officer who chooses to seize your firearm while communicating with you.
Penalties for weapons offenses
It might seem that you can do almost anything with a gun in Alaska as long as you are sensible, but there are still stiff penalties if you break the law. Ignorance of the law is not a defense, so if for instance you have a hunting rifle in your car in a school parking lot, you are breaking the law and can be charged with a weapons offense. If you are 15 years old and have hidden a handgun under your mattress without your parents knowing, you are breaking the law and could be arrested.
The last mentioned offense could result in a maximum of 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000 or both if you are found guilty as it is considered a Class B misdemeanor. If you are a convicted felon and are still out on parole but are caught in possession of a firearm, you could face going back to prison if convicted. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a Class C felony and could lead to five more years in state prison and a fine of up to $50,000 or both.
Criminal convictions are almost always worse than just the actual sentence as they can have a huge negative impact on your future and your family. If arrested for any Alaska weapons offense, you should make sure you have effective representation by an Anchorage based criminal defense attorney who will do his best to ensure your rights are upheld. Contact the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage at 907-276-8008.