Sponsor pulls bill allowing guns on campus

JUNEAU — A bill that would allow people to carry concealed handguns on University of Alaska campuses has been pulled.

 

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, asked the Senate Finance Committee during a Tuesday hearing to not take up the bill this year, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. This year’s legislative session is scheduled to end Sunday.

Senate Bill 176 had previous hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Coghill chairs. From those sessions, Coghill said the bill has practical and safety issues the Legislature couldn’t answer.

“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? Is (allowing only) concealed carry the best policy? Because at that point, you’re restricting Second Amendment rights. Those are the practical problems, and we just couldn’t get to the answer.”

The bill would have allowed anyone to carry concealed handguns on campuses. Students living in dorms could keep their firearms in their rooms as long as they had a valid concealed carry permit and notified administrators.

Beyond a handful of students and professors, the bill generally faced opposition from university officials. In fact, during one hearing, University of Alaska President Pat Gamble said the bill was simply unacceptable.

The university’s current policy is to allow firearms on campus if they are locked in vehicles or designated gun lockers. Concealed carry is not allowed.

Coghill said he has been told the university’s Board of Regents will review the guns on campus policy. Coghill told the News-Miner he wants to give them the opportunity to answer questions about safety and the practicality that lawmakers couldn’t.

“We’ve lifted this conversation as high as we’ll go,” he said. “And if I feel that they’re not responsive, it’s coming back. That’s not a threat. That’s a fact.”

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