Six state governors gathered at SHOT Show 2022 for the first-ever Governor’s Forum hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Governors Pete Ricketts (Nebraska), Kristi Noem (South Dakota), Asa Hutchinson (Arkansas), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Mark Gordon (Wyoming), and Mike Dunleavy (Alaska) met in Las Vegas to discuss the firearm industry in their states and reaffirm their commitment to the Second Amendment.
As part of his answer to a question about how states are banding together to push back against federal gun control laws, Gov. Dunleavy highlighted Alaska’s State Defense Force. He likened it to colonial-era state militias and offered the model as a way for other states to maintain an alternative to the National Guard, which is under dual state and federal control.
“Alaska for some time, and I think other states are thinking about this as well, has had a state defense force,” he said. “It’s a little bit like the National Guard, but it’s fully underneath the state of Alaska. That’s the bulwark against the possibility of nationalizing the National Guard.”
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The Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF) is an all-volunteer organization and is considered part of Alaska’s Organized Militia. The governor may activate the ASDF whenever the National Guard has been called to federal service or the Guard needs help to perform their state service. As of 2015, 23 states had organized some kind of state defense force.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also took the opportunity to commit to pushing for constitutional carry in this year’s legislative session.
“We’re going to make a big push to get constitutional carry done this year in Georgia, and I think we’ll do it,” he said.
Gov. Kemp has been advocating for constitutional carry since his run for governor in 2018, but has thus far been unable to get the legislation across the finish line.
Constitutional carry was the first bill Gov. Noem signed after taking office, and she did so in part to send a message that gun rights would be respected in South Dakota.
“Here, your Second Amendment rights matter, and we back it up with action,” she said.
The six-governor panel primarily answered questions about how to attract gun companies to their states. The governors credited rural, gun-friendly culture, an open-for-business mindset during the COVID pandemic, and clear pro-gun messaging from state politicians for their ability to attract gun makers.
Several high-profile gun and ammo makers have in recent years moved facilities to the gun-friendly states represented on the panel, including Weatherby, SIG Sauer, Stag Arms, and Magpul.