Legislature holds off vote on gun bill until next session

Lenin Lau/ Sun Star Reporter

April 22, 2014

 

Alaska Senate Bill 176, which would have allowed concealed firearms on University of Alaska campuses, will not be voted on in this legislative session.

Senator John Coghill, who sponsored the bill, pulled the bill from a vote, saying that there was not enough time for the legislature to answer practical and safety concerns regarding the implementation of the bill.

“The practical issue of safety on campus, I don’t know if we had a good enough answer on that,” Coghill said. “You intermingle them into dormitories. How do you create a policy that allows that? […] we just couldn’t get to the answer.”

University of Alaska currently allows firearms on campus, as long as they are locked in vehicles or in gun lockers located at the UAF police station but does not allow concealed carry of firearms.

Although student groups such as Young Americans for Liberty, Alaska College Republicans and Political Science Association as well as some professors supported the bill, the UA President Patrick Gamble was strongly against the bill, as was many university administrators, including UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers.

“The university administration are pleased that the bill is not going to be advancing,” Kate Ripley said Public Relations Executive for Gamble,  “It raised a number of safety concerns that we had, and we shared those concerns with the legislature a number of times.  And implementation questions are; is this going to work, how is this going to work in the dorms.  So we are appreciative the legislature took the time to listen, took our testimony, and that they responded.”

Proponents of the bill emphasized the strict rules to obtain a concealed permit.  According to the architect of the bill, Hans Rodvik, “There are a litany of steps before anyone can get a concealed carry permit. […] Including 12-hour gun and safety training.”

Opponents of the bill were able to point out instances where potentially dangerous individuals could obtain a concealed carry permit.

“Even an individual with a stalking charge can obtain a concealed carry permit in Alaska,” Ripley said.

With the legislative session done for the year,  school administrators look to spread their message before the legislative session.

“Universities are the best place for discussing public policy,” Ripley said “This is an opportunity to educate and at least continue the discussion.”

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