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Know the Laws: Alaska

UPDATED September 14, 2017

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Below is information about state gun laws in Alaska.  A restraining order or criminal conviction may make it illegal for an abuser to have a gun. However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find help, please click on the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

It depends. If the abuser has been convicted of a felony, is it illegal for him/her to have or buy a gun under federal law.  Federal law also states that if someone has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun -- however, this currently does not apply to certain states on the West Coast, including Alaska.*

Under Alaska state law, if a person had in his/her possession or used a deadly weapon while committing a crime involving domestic violence, the judge should order that the gun be taken away and given to the commissioner of public safety or a law enforcement agency.**  Alaska law also says that someone who has been convicted of two or more class A misdemeanors within the past six years is not eligible for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.***

In addition, Alaska state law says that a police officer who is investigating a crime of domestic violence can seize any deadly weapons that are in plain view at the scene of the crime, if the officer believes taking the weapon is necessary to protect you or your family.  Also, if the abuser had or used a deadly weapon against you during the domestic violence, the police officer can take any weapons (in plain view or not) that the abuser has in his/her possession.  However, if the weapon is not needed as evidence in a criminal case, the law enforcement agency that has the weapon must let the owner get the weapon back.****

* 18 USC § 922 (g)(9); (Note: although federal law prohibits owning or buying a gun if the abuser is convicted of a "domestic violence misdemeanor," none of Alaska's domestic violence misdemeanors have the 'intentional' element that is required under current case law to meet the federal definition. Therefore, a conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor in Alaska does not make it illegal for an abuser to own or buy a gun. See United States v. Nobriga, 474 F.3d 561 (9th Cir. Ct App., 2006))
** Alaska Statute § 12.55.015(f)
*** Alaska Statute § 18.65.705(4)
**** Alaska Statute § 18.65.515(b)

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back to topIf a law enforcement officer or other government official is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, can s/he have or buy a gun?

No.  Law enforcement officers and other government officials in Alaska who have been convicted of a felony cannot have or buy guns for any purpose, including their official duties, according to federal law.*

Note: Under current law, the ban on guns does not apply to people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors in Alaska, which includes law enforcement officer or government officials.** See If the abuser has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor, can s/he keep or buy a gun? for more information.

* 18 USC § 925 (a)(1)
** See United States v. Nobriga, 474 F.3d 561 (9th cir. Ct App., 2006)

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back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a felony?

The Alaska Court System website has a trial court link that provides information about almost all cases filed in Alaska, with some exceptions for confidential reasons.  Felonies and misdemeanor records are on the website. However, if the abuser was convicted in another state, Alaska does not have access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

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WomensLaw.org thanks Susan S. McClean with the Alaska Department of Law for her valuable contribution to these pages as well as Christine Pate, Pro Bono Project Director, and Andrea Browning, former Legal Advocacy Project Coordinator, at the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault for their revisions.  

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