The Alaska State Senate voted 13-5 in favor of a bill which would allow concealed carry on college campuses.
It will also strip the University of Alaska Board of Regents’ ability to designate Gun-Free Zones on campuses and allows legal concealed carry permit holders to carry guns in classrooms as well as dorms. The university will still be able to restrict weapons in areas where disciplinary actions (or sexual harassment) and domestic crimes are investigated.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) said SB 174 resolves the issue between the right to carry and the university’s current policy. ”The policy of the University of Alaska is to say, OK, concealed carry is available to the rest of the state, but not on our campus. And for them to do that, they do it in a manner to achieve, they have said, the safety, it’s a safety issue with them. But of course we have seen that declaring an area a gun free zone and achieving safety are not connected in any way.”
“I don’t want the students and the faculty at the University of Alaska to be a soft target as the dial seems to be ratcheted up over the last few years,” he said.
During yesterday’s debate on the Senate floor, Kelly referred to directly to the Second Amendment, saying, “There was an underlying constitutional issue that needed to be addressed. When you go to the university, do you check your freedom of speech rights at the door? Freedom of religion?”
In her rebuttal to Kelly, Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) and the Senate Minority Leader said, “Guess what? I’m going to be opposed and voting no on this bill.”
Gardner also brought up an issue the Alaska Senate may act on next, pointing out, “The University of Alaska’s a government building, it’s also a school. The Alaska State Capitol is a government building, why do we think it’s incumbent on us not to allow the board of regents to regulate their buildings in the same way our own?”
Addressing Gardner’s comment on the State Capitol, Senator Kelly said after the vote, “I wouldn’t doubt that you’ll see some bills in the future on different areas, that’s not necessarily going to come from me, it’s possible.”
“Whether there’s irony or hypocrisy that’s irrelevant. The fact is, is that the university was in conflict with our statutes and our constitution, and one at a time we take back that ground,” said Kelly.
When informed that some University of Alaska faculty members pledge to leave the University if the bill is passed into law, Kelly quipped, “Don’t let the screen door hit you… and you know the rest of the phrase.”
Yes we do, Senator. Yes we do.
The bill now heads to the House.