While calling Alaska legislative action on guns "unconstitutional" and questions asked by a legislator "blogosphere rumor," Sen. Mark Begich staked out his own pro-gun credentials before a joint session of the Alaska Legislature.
Following his address, Rep. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, questioned Begich about allegations that the federal government had a secret plan to control guns through ammunition purchases.
"Do you know of any excessive purchase of ammunition by the feds as a backdoor way to control the use of certain firearms?" she asked.
Another variation of that notion was recently repeated by former Gov. Sarah Palin, who suggested that there was stockpiling of bullets by the federal government in anticipation of civil unrest.
"That doesn't exist," Begich told Reinbold, and said it was part of the "blogosphere rumor mill."
"There's no stockpiling," he said.
Media outlets and fact-checking groups have debunked the online stockpiling rumors, saying they appeared to stem from standard purchases of ammunition by federal law enforcement agencies for regular operations and training.
After Begich's address to the Legislature, Reinbold approached Begich to further discuss the topic.
She later declined, through her staff, to to talk to a reporter about the origin of her questions.
Begich also responded to a question by Reinbold about House Joint Resolution 7, which calls upon President Obama to rescind 23 executive orders he's issued on gun regulation by denouncing a different bill, House Bill 69, sponsored by Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, on the dais behind him.
Chenault's bill, co-sponsored by Reinbold, would allow the arrest by Alaska law enforcement officers of federal officials attempting to enforce some national gun control laws Alaska.
The bill was passed easily in the House of Representatives despite constitutionality concerns from the Legislature's own legal advisers, and without getting an opinion from the state's attorney general about its constitutionality or enforceability.
"You've got to make your statement, and that's OK," Begich said, but even if it becomes law it wouldn't mean anything.
"It's irrelevant, frankly, because it is not constitutional," he said.
Gov. Sean Parnell last week told reporters that he supported the bill, and that what might actually be unconstitutional are federal gun control bills. Parnell, a lawyer, said "there are ways that bill (HB69) would be constitutional."
Monday, Begich said there wasn't any doubt that it was unconstitutional.
"It's unconstitutional," he said. "Your own legislative body lawyers told you that."
Despite his criticism of the legislative actions, Begich called himself a hard-core supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.
"There is no better state to represent when it comes to the Second Amendment than Alaska," he said.
Begich is up for re-election in 2014, with the state's major political figures, such as Parnell, not yet saying whether they'd run against the freshman Democrat.
Contact Pat Forgey at pat(at)alaskadispatch.com