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Concealed carry on campus?

Bill would forbid University of Alaska policies that contradict state law

Posted: February 16, 2014 - 12:08am

Fittingly, the bill introduced Friday that would prohibit the University of Alaska Board of Regents from banning concealed weapons on campus actually is the result of campus discussions.

Intern Hans Rodvik approached Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, about the proposal earlier this session. The Senate majority leader agreed to carry SB176 under one condition — Rodvik would be in charge of seeing it through the legislative process.

“The university created a policy contradictory to state law,” Coghill said. “We’re asking them to give us a good reason the right to bear arms should be infringed.”

In addition to barring the University of Alaska Board of Regents from prohibiting the concealed carry of firearms, the proposal forbids any policy from being adopted that is not identical to state law.

“We’re talking about the fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” said Rodvik, a junior political science major at the Anchorage campus. “The Board of Regents is flat out ignoring the constitution and state law.”

A news release from Coghill’s office states: “Current state law does not prohibit law abiding citizens from carrying concealed firearms on UA Campuses.”

The bill does allow for exceptions, however.

For example, university officials can prohibit firearms and knives in restricted areas in certain buildings — areas that require some sort of security clearance before entering.

University officials can also ban the discharge of a firearm, so long as the policy allows for the firearm to be used in a self-defense situation.

“The Alaska Constitution affords us many rights, including the right to carry a firearm,” Coghill said in the news release. “Individuals do not lose the right to bear a concealed firearm simply because they enter a public university.”

Aside from one intimidation case, the University of Alaska, Southeast campus did not have any criminal or hate crimes committed in 2010 or 2012. In 2011, there were three robberies on campus or in residential facilities.

The Fairbanks campus has not been as fortunate. From 2010 to 2012, UAF police reported 26 cases of forcible sexual assault, two cases on non-forcible sexual assault and 14 burglaries.

UAF also experienced a motor vehicle theft on campus in 2011, and three cases of aggravated assault over the three-year span.

The UA campus in Alaska’s largest city reported eight forcible sex assault cases from 2010 to 2012, along with four burglary cases and six aggravated assaults.

Over the three-year span, UAA police reported a robbery, motor vehicle theft and 273 larceny thefts, according to crime data reports from the UA system websites.

Sill, in light of the rash of mass shootings across the country over the last several years, Coghill said allowing students to carry on campus could deter such a tragedy from happening in Alaska.

“In the most horrific shootings, often times (the shooters) have lost their cognitive thinking abilities and they may have some mental problems,” Coghill said. “They go to places where people can’t defend themselves, and campuses are a prime target.”

University officials hadn’t evaluated the entirety of the bill when reached for comment Friday afternoon, but did defend the policy that has been in place since 1995 that bans concealed carry on campus.

“The university considers itself to be similarly situated to other places where weapons are not allowed,” said Kate Wattum, the assistant director of public affairs for the University of Alaska system.

Wattum explained that high school tours and other visitation events often have children on campus like a K-12 campus might, and that there are daycares and places that sell liquor on or near campuses.

“Dorms are not really considered to be safe places for weapons storage as well,” Wattum continued. “Students tend to leave those unlocked, there are a number of visitors in-and-out and older students may have alcohol inside.”

The Board of Regents will be in discussions with campus administration personnel as the bill makes its way through the Legislature, Wattum said.

The legislation was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is awaiting being scheduled for its first hearing.

The idea for SB176 was formed on the University of Alaska, Anchorage campus last fall when Rodvik learned he had been accepted for the internship with Coghill’s office for the second year of the 28th Legislature.

“It really came out of the student body,” Coghill said.

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Steven Rosales
Steven Rosales 02/16/14 - 04:24 pm
Art Peterson

If you had a concealed weapon on you during one of your classes and an act of violence started you could possibly stop it for an example under a minute instead of waiting for say 10 minutes for emegency responders. You could save lives. The horrible elementary shooting could have been stopped if a teacher had a handgun! That is a fact!

Matthew Carberry
Matthew Carberry 02/16/14 - 04:44 pm

You might do some research. CC permits are revoked at an average rate of <1% nationwide for all reasons, not just for crimes. That is a rate that rivals or betters the criminal violation rate for police officers.
At least one state allows CC by 18 year olds, no notable problems. In AK and most states carry is and has been legal in most of the places you list, no notable problems. In AK only courts, K-12 schools, airports beyond security checkpoint, military bases, and bars on your list are off limits by law. Care to point to actual incidents to support your fears in all the others?
Most of the 13,000 homicide victims killed with firearms are young men 16+ by criminals in the course of committing crimes, not women or "children". Most of the 17K suicides with firearms are adult men, which has nothing to do with carry laws.
Oh, and the fastest growing group of gun owners and carriers is women, who need an equalizer for physical size more than men. I find you saying "even women" incredibly sexist.

Angel Crusher
Angel Crusher 02/16/14 - 10:45 pm
This from last month:

"The accidental firing of a handgun in a lawmaker's office ignited debate Wednesday over whether guns should be restricted on the campus of Kentucky's State Capitol.

Rep. Leslie Combs accidentally fired her handgun Tuesday afternoon while unloading it in her office in the Capitol Annex - the building adjacent to the Capitol that houses legislative offices and committee meeting rooms.

"I'm a gun owner. It happens," she said Wednesday, adding that she was following safety precautions as she unloaded her Ruger 380 semi-automatic handgun. No one was injured."

So what's more likely? Getting shot by an assailant in the commission of a crime or shot by an idiot mishandling their weapon?

Matthew Carberry
Matthew Carberry 02/16/14 - 11:05 pm
Uncommon accidents don't justify denial of rights

There are 300 something million firearms in legal hands in this country. There are about 600 fatal firearms accidents in this country per year, with the majority occuring during hunting.

What other fundamental rights would you like to restrict based on statistical noise and false utilitarian calculations?

Further, note that the Rep's "accident" was nothing of the sort, she was unnecessarily handling the gun and had broken at least one basic firearms safety rule while doing so.

A gun left in the holster and not touched is functionally inert and safe, it is when people fail to follow the basic carry rule "stop touching it" that accidents happen. Coincidentally, the Uni's current parking lot policy is inherently unsafe as it requires unnecessary handling. Simply allowing carry is actually safer for all involved.

Matthew Carberry
Matthew Carberry 02/16/14 - 11:17 pm
Speaking of safety...

If the concern is truly improving firearms safety, as opposed to using safety as a smokescreen for the abrogation of fundamental rights, then intellectual integrity would demand those concerned push for values-neutral, age-appropriate, firearms safety education to be taught to all Alaskans, starting in elementary school.

That would be logically consistent with the common position that "abstinance only" doesn't work and kids should be educated about things about which ignorance can be dangerous: like sex ed and basic water safety.

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