Alaska ranks first in the nation for its rate of rape, the rate at which men kill women, and the rate at which firearms are stolen, says the Anchorage Daily News. Domestic violence and aggravated assaults are also serious problems. While violent crimes overall dropped across the nation last year, they went up in Alaska. In a renewed effort to take on some of these problems — particularly those involving guns and domestic violence — federal, state and municipal authorities are working together like never before and pressing new programs into service. “Gun crime doesn’t recognize neighborhood borders, and that’s why a community strategy for this issue is so important,” Mayor Mark Begich said. U.S. Attorney Tim Burgess said a new initiative is under way by his office to crack down on domestic violence offenders possessing guns. Federal laws are more restrictive than are state laws on domestic-violence-related felonies: People convicted of them can never own guns again, whereas state laws allow for the ownership of some types — such as nonconcealable guns like rifles — after certain periods of time.
Anchorage Police Chief Walt Monegan said many of the people involved in gun and property crimes are between the ages of 13 and 20. For homicides and assaults, it skews a little older: 16 to 23, according to a recent five-year statistical analysis by police. This is one reason police have put officers in local high schools: to get more students involved to help spread an anti-violence message. School District Superintendent Carol Comeau said there has been a significant decline in the number of weapons brought to schools since the program started. “Young people are getting guns because they are not being locked up in homes,” Comeau said. Burgess urged gun owners to get a gunlock. Hhis office has a limited number available free.