BY ANNELIESE MOLL
For the UAS Whalesong
On February 8, 2016, SB0174 was introduced to the legislature by Senator Pete Kelly. Senator Mike Dunleavy, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, is a co-sponsor of the bill, as is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Lesil McGuire. This bill is an Act relating to the regulation of firearms and knives by the University of Alaska. It is scheduled have hearings on February 16 through Feb. 18.
If SB0174 passes, the University of Alaska Board of Regents will not be able to regulate the possession, ownership, registration, storage, or transportation of concealed handguns or knives. The University of Alaska would be able to regulate the possession of firearms or knives in restricted access areas of university buildings and the buildings deemed to be restricted access buildings will need to have notices posted. The University of Alaska will also not be able to create a database or registry of anyone on campus who has a firearm. The bill appears to have quite a bit of support within the Senate and has been placed on a fast track. If the bill is passed, then the University will have 30 days to adopt the policies.
Within the United States, concealed carry is legal in all states. However, permits are required in most, and, depending on the state, acquiring a permit has varying levels of difficulty. For example in South Dakota, a permit is $10 and there is no special training required. While in Illinois a permit is $150 and require 16 hours of training and range time costing between $450 and $500.
Alaskans do not need to have a Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) permit. However, they do need to be 21 or older to legally possess a handgun. Even though it’s legal to carry, taking a class and getting a permit is not a bad idea at all. Classes are typically two days long (12 hours) with range time. To certify , individuals are required to pass a 25 question test (it’s true or false) and be able to hit a target at three different distances. The cost of a class is going to be in the $250 range. Alaskan concealed carry permits are generally valid for 5 years.
Currently, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin have opted to allow people to have concealed carry weapons on college campuses. In Oregon, this decision was pushed heavily after a shooting at a community college. Many who live near the campus spoke out about how the death count could have been significantly lower if someone within the school had been carrying. As unfortunate as it is, having ‘no guns allowed’ or gun free zones is not going to stop people who wish to do others harm from bringing one anyway.
On the other hand, there are large numbers of people who are also in favor of having more control over firearms. In Texas, several professors within the University of Texas expressed great fear about the idea that their students might be armed. Others expressed that by allowing for concealed carrying on campuses it would be creating a sense of fear.
Being able to conceal carry on a college campus should not change anything for staff or other students if the individual carrying is going about it correctly, because, if done correctly, others should never know. It all comes down to responsible gun ownership.