- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The president of the University of Alaska system raised concerns Monday with a bill that would allow people to carry concealed firearms on university system campuses.

Pat Gamble told the Senate Judiciary Committee that 15,000 to 20,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade visit the campuses each year. He said he would be powerless to keep guns away from them if the bill passes.

He noted that the courts make an exception to the right to bear firearms when it comes to schools with a K-12 population.

“If I was going to try to protect K-12 kids on our 16 campuses, I would hire a company who has been in the Middle East for a number of years,” Gamble said. “I can tell you right now I cannot protect the campuses.”

Gamble told the committee the K-12 students are either passing through University of Alaska campuses or are in libraries that are a consortium with local school districts.

He also noted that firearms are allowed on campus, but university regulations state that firearms must be kept in a locked vehicle.

Gamble said firearms on campus would be a distraction to the learning process in general.

“There is a chilling academic effect if someone has a weapon slung over a shoulder while in the classroom,” Gamble told the committee.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, would forbid the University of Alaska board of regents from enacting policies that are contrary to state law regarding possession, ownership, use, carrying, registration, storage and transportation of firearms and knives.

Coghill maintains that the regents’ policies must be identical to state laws regarding firearms.

Hans Rodvik, an intern for Coghill, told the committee there was no state law forbidding firearms on University of Alaska campuses. He said recent court rulings involving the University of Utah and Colorado State have determined that those universities cannot ban concealed firearms.

The bill remains in committee.

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