The Assembly is delaying consideration of an ordinance regulating secondhand dealers so it can be tweaked further. It was earlier scheduled for a public hearing during the regular Assembly meeting on Monday, July 21st.
Human Resources Committee chairman Jesse Kiehl announced during a special meeting Thursday, July 17th that they plan to address dealers’ comments and concerns in the next draft version. The measure would require secondhand dealers to record purchases of certain used items, and hold the items for 30 days before selling. Thrift stores and non-profit 501(c) organizations would be exempt from the ordinance.
Juneau Police Lt. Kris Sell said secondhand dealers could use point-of-sale system — at no cost — that is identical or the same as used by pawn shops. The latest draft ordinance limits reporting requirements to purchases of used firearms, coins and bullion, precious gems, precious metals, tools and electronic equipment worth over $50.
“If someone has stolen it, then it has no money into it,” Sell said. “They can go sell it to any person for much less than it’s worth and then get a quick sale out of that to turn that around. They can also be shipped out of town quickly with like a cash-for-gold type of service.
Angela Hull of Aardvark’s Armory commented during Thursday night’s meeting that she is a federally licensed firearms dealer that can do background checks. They normally buy used weapons from a limited circle of people that they already know. But she called the ordinance “too onerous” and she worried that holding and storing firearms in a secure area for 30 days could hobble her business if she decides to expand.
“I get what we’re trying to do and I’m 100 percent in support of that,” Hull said. “But this will change the way I’m able to do business. Firearm selling between individuals is completely legal.”
Other shop owners objected to other provisions of the draft ordinance and noted that it does not prevent someone from selling stolen goods on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook’s Juneau Buy Sell Trade page or listing items on KINY radio’s Problem Corner program.
Dylan Hammons of the Gold & Silver Exchange, also known as the “Gold Buyer”, said the new ordinance targeted his business specifically.
“So, all you guys worried about your business getting shut down, just relax,” said Hammons in comments directed at other shop owners in the audience.
Hammons said Juneau was setting a precedent in Alaska with the proposed regulation of gold buyers, secondhand dealers and consignment shops.
“This is not something that we can rush through and just copy and paste from the pawn shop statutes,” Hammons said.
Gwen Place, manager of Alaskan Dames consignment shop, said it may be a burden to store used jewelry for 30 days, but she believed that the ordinance is necessary.
“There’s a big theft problem in Juneau. A big one,” Place said. “Sometimes thieves get stuck with stuff and they don’t want to be caught with it. So, I do think that sometimes thieves unload.”
Place also suggested that it’s not just drug addicted burglars that commit the thefts. Sometimes, it’s as simple as kids stealing money for a video game or stereo system.
The ordinance is scheduled to come back before the Human Resources Committee on July 31st, and then a public hearing during the Aug. 11 regular Assembly meeting.