JUNEAU — An Interior senator has put forward a bill that would allow the concealed carry of firearms on University of Alaska campuses, overriding a 1995 Board of Regents decision against concealed carry.
The Senate Bill 176 comes from the office of Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, and would explicitly prohibit the Board of Regents from enacting any blanket bans on concealed carry.
The bill is a project of Coghill’s intern Hans Rodvik, a University of Alaska Anchorage student who requested to steer the bill through the legislative process. The argument for the bill, Coghill said, is that university campuses are part of the state, and the state can’t constitutionally limit firearms.
“I wouldn’t do it (put forward Rodvik’s bill) without my philosophical backing,” he said. “They (the Board of Regents) made a policy that is contrary to both our state law and what is the legal authority to do that. They have as a university to manage the system with the board of regents, but I don’t think it was ever intended to allow them to thwart the individual right to keep and bear arms.”
Alaska law allows anyone to conceal carry a firearm without a permit, and Coghill said he believes that should apply to campuses.
Currently University of Alaska system allows firearms on campuses, but requires they be stored in specially designated lockers or kept in a locked vehicle.
Senate Bill 176 would give the Board of Regents some flexibility moving forward, allowing the board to ban concealed carry in buildings that have limited access, such as buildings that screen visitors, and would also allow it to prohibit firing firearms on university property for purposes other than self-defense.
The bill drew criticism from Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, who said he didn’t see the need for the bill, saying that he felt it interfered with the ability of the university to create “a safe place for everyone.”
“I’m a proponent of the Second Amendment just like most of us are,” he said. “But I think we need to give the university the ability to manage campus life as it sees fit.”
The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Coghill chairs, and has not yet received a hearing date.
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.