March 25, 2016
The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted to fight a bill that will permit people to carry concealed weapons on campuses.
The resolution — approved nine to two by regents in a special phone conference — asks that other legislators and the governor oppose Senate Bill 174 in its current form.
Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, introduced the bill in February. Similar measures have been considered by the Legislature in recent years, including one sponsored by Sen. John Coghill, R-Fairbanks, in 2014.
The university offered six amendments to the original bill, giving the board of regents some authority to restrict weapons in critical or sensitive situations, such as in dorms or situations where students display a risk of harm to themselves or others.
An updated version of the bill includes four of those amendments but leaves out two. Amendments not in the bill Friday include limiting guns in parts of facilities dedicated to programs for students in preschool through secondary school, and another amendment that would require those carrying weapons on campus to have a concealed carry permit. In general, Alaskans over the age of 21 do not need a permit to legally carry concealed weapons but they can get them through the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
The resolution recommends support of the bill only if all of the requested amendments are included.
“This bill as written limits the board’s ability to govern the university in a way that is best for our students, faculty, staff and educational mandate,” University President Jim Johnsen said in a press release Friday.
Kelly pushed back against the resolution in a prepared statement.
“The regents obviously don’t understand the art of compromise and they won’t be satisfied until they get everything they want,” he wrote. “However, the regents do not set the policy of the state of Alaska and neither are they empowered to operate in flagrant disregard of our constitution. Though I have tried to incorporate their ideas I have to draw the line.”