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1jeFtq.WiPh2.91

A controversial Alaska gun bill sponsored by House Speaker Mike Chenault that would put federal agents at risk of felony charges for enforcing certain future weapons laws cleared the lone committee assigned to hear it Monday, despite a legal opinion saying it is likely unconstitutional.

Chenault’s proposal is immensely popular among Republicans and a few Democrats. It has 19 co-sponsors, so half the House is already signed onto it.

Rep. Chris Tuck, an Anchorage Democrat, is an enthusiastic backer.

On Monday, House Bill 69 cleared the House Judiciary Committee with support of six of the seven members. One was Nome Democrat Neal Foster, part of the Republican-controlled majority. His father was tried and acquitted more than 20 years ago of illegally possessing unregistered machine guns.

Chenault’s bill is among a number of gun measures being heard in legislative committees this session, mainly in the House. Big Lake Republican Rep. Mark Neuman’s “stand your ground” bill, which expands the right to use deadly force as self-defense, passed the Judiciary Committee earlier this month, as did GOP colleague Charisse Millett’s resolution expressing disapproval with President Obama’s executive orders regarding gun control and gun safety. Another bill, allowing school districts to arm school employees, is before the House Education Committee.