House backs resolution urging change in Canada gun laws

Posted: Friday, April 06, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state House has approved a resolution seeking relief via the federal government from a fee to transport firearms through Canada.

The resolution urges President George Bush, the State Department and Congress to negotiate with Canada to reconsider the firearms fee for Alaskans, who must pass through Canada to travel by land to the Lower 48 and to reach the capital in Juneau from other regions of the state.

As of Jan. 1, visitors hunting in Canada or just passing through must complete a nonresident declaration form and pay a fee of about $33. The temporary license is valid for 60 days and may be renewed at any time during a 12-month period without paying an additional fee.

Senate Joint Resolution 14 urges federal officials to negotiate with Canada to remove the fee and reporting requirement to allow Alaskans to take part in routine recreation and travel opportunities.

All 40 House members signed on as sponsors of the resolution. The state Senate approved it 18-0 on March 15.

Rep. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, said he has been contacted by Canadian authorities in Ottawa about the progress of the resolution and that it could help change the law.

''This, perhaps uniquely in recent legislative experience, actually does have some substance,'' Dyson said of the resolution, which carries no force of law.

Rep. Harry Crawford, D-Anchorage, said fairness was at issue.

''We don't charge our Canadian neighbors a fee to bring firearms across our borders,'' Crawford said. ''I believe it's only fair that they don't charge us a fee for going across their border.''

Southeast legislators said their constituents routinely cross into Canada on trips up the Taku and Stikine rivers or to cabins in the Yukon Territory and British Columbia.

''We're good neighbors, and they should recognize that,'' said Rep. Bill Hudson, R-Juneau.

Canada's gun law affects Alaska pilots of small planes, who by Alaska law are required to carry firearms as part of their survival gear. The House last month approved House Bill 127, sponsored by Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, which removes the gun requirement for pilots who fly into Canada. Harris' bill is awaiting action in the Senate Transportation Committee.


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