Q&A with Alaska U.S. House candidates: What should the federal government do to address mass shootings?

The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for U.S. House running in the special primary election to answer a series of questions. Read all of their responses here.

What do you think should be done by the federal government to address mass shootings?

Jay R. Armstrong (R)

I’m a constitutionalist, no compromise. Our natural rights aren’t given to us by governments, and our civil rights are restrictions against the governments. The extreme liberal left will use this to tragedy to further violate our rights and attempt a gun ban. That is why it’s so important to vote conservative Republican and be wary of nepotism and RINOS! Why can’t Ukraine get a loan from the World Bank? If we can afford $54 billion for Ukraine, we can afford to put police in every school to protect our children.

Nick Begich (R)

While gun-related murders have declined by nearly 50% since the early ‘90s, more can be done to address the root causes. As a nation, we need to do more to destigmatize mental illness and improve access to mental health counseling and other resources. Additionally, many mass killings in our country are attributed to gang violence. We need to make sure that law enforcement is provided with the resources they need to crack down on gang activity.

Chris Bye (Libertarian)

No centralized decision can be made to adequately address these horrific events. Another rule or regulation isn’t going to prevent this. We, the people, not the government, need to do a better job taking care of one another. When we see bullying, we cannot turn away. We need to address it head-on. We need to help folks struggling with depression and anger. Turning to the government will only exacerbate the issue. We should be asking: What societal issues are common to these events? What roles do parents play? Teachers? The community? Mental health professionals?


Arlene Carle (nonpartisan)

The common thread among mass shootings such as the one that just occurred in Uvalde, Texas, appears to be young males who struggle to find a place in society. If school protections could absolutely protect against monstrous acts, a shooter intent on harming others would turn his attention to more accessible targets such as malls, theaters, churches, parks. Government closest to the people seems to be the most efficient. From a federal standpoint, perhaps making all gun crimes federal crimes and improving mental health identification and treatment would be good first steps.

Santa Claus (undeclared)

As a former special assistant to the deputy police commissioner of New York City, I believe our government should (1) ban assault weapons (US 1994 ban -> mass shooting deaths dropped by 43%; In 2004, ban expired -> mass shooting deaths increased by 239%); (2) require universal background checks (no exceptions); (3) prohibit bump stocks, high-capacity magazines, silencers downloadable 3-D guns; (4) require safe gun storage, lost and stolen gun reporting and surrender of guns by prohibited people; (5) draft a model red flag emergency protection law and; (6) repeal gun industry immunity.

John B. Coghill Jr. (R)

Help with funding for security for all schools. Promote concealed carry in gun-free zones. Work on weaknesses in behavioral health service communications.

Christopher S. Constant (D)

The United States has the most guns, the least gun regulations and the most gun violence of any nation in the world. It takes mental gymnastics to look at those first few facts and determine they are not related to the third fact. We have about 100 million more guns than people in this country. I support the Second Amendment and do not believe we should ban guns, but it’s time we get serious about putting human lives above the right to own any type of gun and bring it anywhere you want free of any regulation. I support the federal government passing meaningful gun regulation policy.

Otto H. Florschutz III (R)

The federal government is inept with most every thing it does. Background checks consistently miss people with homicidal tendencies. We need to start addressing the cultural aspects of this problem. We also need to harden school access.

Thomas “Tom” R. Gibbons (R)

Address mental health.

Al Gross (nonpartisan)

I support universal background check legislation. I support personal interviews by local authorities for assault weapon purchases, which should be funded by federal legislation and held to a national standard so that people don’t drive across a state border to a more lenient state. I had to be interviewed and cleared by a TSA agent to get my Global Entry/TSA pre-check card to fly, and I believe this level of scrutiny is also appropriate if someone wants to buy an AR-15. I also strongly support the federal government funding mental health programs that help prevent gun violence.

Andrew J. Halcro (nonpartisan)

Tighten background checks, as well as put a consistent effort into investing in mental health services.

John Wayne Howe (Alaska Independence Party)


Directly, nothing. This is a societal problem, due to the general decline of society. To list here the many federal government abuses that cause citizens to “go postal” would be impossible. It is not what we should ask the government to do, but rather what must be demanded of the federal government to quit doing. When there are too many laws, we all become criminals.

Jeff B. Lowenfels (nonpartisan)

Increase funding for mental health, do away with the filibuster to pass comprehensive gun control legislation (with universal background check and license requirements before purchasing a gun). We need to have a hard conversation about the Second Amendment.

Mike Milligan (D)

The entire Second Amendment requires a well-regulated militia. The Supreme Court is set to put guns back on the streets of New York — bad idea. I was hoping that the NRA would’ve breathed a sigh of humility following their close encounter with Russian spy Maria Butina. Oh well. I dropped my NRA membership years ago. I belong to Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Feds won’t be able to do much until the NRA plays a smaller role — until then, maybe we can track violent video games and connect that to gun purchases. Our constitutional right to self-protection can be combined with a right to not be murdered.

J.R. Myers (Libertarian)

Reasonable security at federal facilities. Otherwise, it isn’t a federal issue.

Sarah Palin (R)


The federal government should support states’ efforts to expand mental health services and enhance security measures in schools.

Silvio E. Pellegrini (undeclared)

Work with state, Native and local government organizations for tailored solutions such as enforcement of current laws, information sharing and public mental health programs.

Mary S. Peltola (D)

My heart is heavy over the news out of Uvalde. As a mother, I can’t fathom the pain of losing a child. Our country will keep experiencing this heartbreak and families will have to keep burying their loved ones if all we can offer are our thoughts and prayers. We cannot continue with the status quo. We need to make it harder for people exhibiting dangerous behavior and who self-report their desire to hurt others to access firearms. We have to provide access to well-funded mental health resources. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community, and especially in our elementary schools.

Tara M. Sweeney (R)

There is no single or simple fix to this problem. First, we must be willing to get out of our “political corners” and have deep, honest discussions about these tragedies to figure out ways to stop them from happening. Mental health experts, education and public safety professionals, gun rights’ advocates and community leaders must all come to the table. I’m open to considering commonsense and bipartisan proposals to address these serious problems. My goal would be to find compromise that would strengthen school safety measures without sacrificing the rights of responsible Alaskan gun owners.

Adam L. Wool (D)

I thought the bi-partisan bill (Toomey/Manchin) that came before Congress in 2013, following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, would have been a good start. The vote failed, with four Democrats opposing, including Alaska’s Mark Begich. It called for better background checks and closing gun show loopholes.

• • •

Multiple candidates did not respond to this survey question. They include:

• Dennis “Denny” W. Aguayo (nonpartisan)

• Brian T. Beal (undeclared)


• Tim Beck (undeclared)

• Gregg B. Brelsford (undeclared)

• Robert Brown (nonpartisan)

• John T. Callahan (R)

• Lady Donna Dutchess (nonpartisan)

• Laurel A. Foster (nonpartisan)


• Karyn Griffin (undeclared)

• Ted S. Heintz (Libertarian)

• William “Bill” D. Hibler III (nonpartisan)

• David Hughes (undeclared)

• Don Knight (nonpartisan)

• Robert “Bob” Lyons (R)

• Anne M. McCabe (nonpartisan)

• Mike E. Melander (R)

• Sherry M. Mettler (undeclared)

• Emil Notti (D)

• Robert Ornelas (American Independent Party)

• Joshua C. Revak (R)

• Maxwell Sumner (R)

• David Thistle (undeclared)

• Ernest F. Thomas (D)

• Richard “Clayton” Trotter (R)

• Bradley D. Welter (R)

• Jason G. Williams (undeclared)

• Jo Woodward (R)

• Stephen Wright (R)