The Alaska Senate has voted in approval of a new bill that would allow concealed firearms to be carried on University of Alaska campuses. The measure now heads to the state House after Thursday’s vote.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) would remove the authority of the Alaska Board of Regents to designate broad gun-free zones on its campuses where people are not allowed to carry legally concealed firearms. The bill would also allow firearms to be carried and kept in dorms, but it does allow the university to restrict them in areas where disciplinary actions or sexual harassment and domestic crimes are investigated, according to this story from the Washington Times.
The bill also lets the university track which students keep firearms in dorms in order to make housing decisions for students who don’t want to share rooms with those who have firearms, the story says.
Kelly said gun-free zones on campuses make them targets for killers.
“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 in the story, referring to the growing number of mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years.
The students at the university fall on both sides of the issue.
“This could affect relationships between students to student, between staff to student,” testified Alaska Southeast student Lily Pothier. “I also think that the change that happens in the atmosphere of a public space when people are aware that there are concealed weapons is not a positive change.”
According to the story, at least 19 states ban concealed weapons on college campuses while 23 states allow individual universities to decide whether to allow campus carry.
Texas is preparing for its campus carry law to go into effect on August 1, allowing licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on public university campuses.
We’ve recently reported on campus carry bills that are working their way through state legislatures in Georgia and another in Tennessee.
A law in Kansas that will allow campus carry goes into effect next summer.