For the last few months I have reading about the University of Alaska, Senator Pete Kelly ( R- Fairbanks), and a certain bill called SB 174. This has left me scratching my head in wonder. Since when does a legislative body set weapons policies for a university or any other body of education? And in this case, by force of law? From everything I have read or listened to in the media, many students, staff and board members at the UA are far from thrilled by this highhandedness.
I believe SB 174 to be wrong in many ways. Mainly in the fact it will strip the UA’s ability to make it’s own decisions and set policy. That is what disturbs me the most about this entire thing. Taking away their rights to resolve their problems on their own is not good, no not good at all. It does bring up a very good question: Who should decide weapons policy on a college campus, the college or the state?
Sen. Pete Kelly feels the state needs to force the UA to allow weapons on campus as if they are unable to decide for themselves. Does this sit well with you? Some people get confused whether or not this is a Second Amendment issue or a safety issue. The term “gun free zone” pops up quite a bit in stories related to the subject at hand. The argument being that these so-called gun free zones such as schools and college campuses are being targeted by armed assailants as some have been in the past. Therefore people should be allowed to arm up to protect themselves on said property and that it is part of their Second Amendment rights to do so.
Hmmm while it is the right of Americans to bear arms as guaranteed by the highest law in the land, there are places and institutions where this is restricted and regulated in the name of public safety. Places such as airports, train stations, hospitals, schools and government buildings to name a few. So to me this is a safety issue. This makes perfect sense to anyone with a brain.
Look at airports, would you want to board a plane with half of its passengers armed to the teeth? For those who say yes ponder this: Jet aircraft fly at thousands of feet in the air. The cabins are pressurized to ground level atmosphere readings so people can breath normally without masks. One round from a weapon piercing the cabin walls at altitude would cause violent decompression, endangering all on board. Then there is endless search for those involved in terrorism at our airports. Screening for them would make that impossible to carry out. No, there is clearly a need to regulate just where and when a person can go armed. Do the security systems at these places need improvement? Yes, there is always a need to improve on security.
It should be up to the institution in question to decide whether or not to allow weapons on their property in name of public and student safety. SB 174 forces the University of Alaska to enact policy against their collective will. This isn’t about the Second Amendment being interfered with, it is about a college’s right to set protections on it’s property on behalf of their students and staff’s safety. Those in Juneau need to stay out and leave the UA alone. SB 174 needs to go the way of the Dodo, extinct.
This has sparked some interesting articles like the editorial reprinted in last Sundays Frontiersman from The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner of April 14, that is along similar lines as this one. Groups are stepping into the fracas like the NRA, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety. These groups are poles apart in their view points and message. Their ads are popping up in various media outlets across Alaska, giving rise to some passionate debate on this contentious subject. Nothing wrong with that.
My problem is that the bill is trying to force the issue and who is really making the decision. That is my contention with this whole darn thing. In my mind a university is place of higher learning. A gathering of students and teachers for better education. Personally I would prefer schools and colleges to be weapons free. I believe the debate for and against weapons on campus must remain there. Those decisions must be made by the university for the university. Not by Juneau; if anything they should back the UA up no matter what conclusion they reach.
Now as to those lawmakers in Juneau. Get back to work, you have bigger fish to fry like a working budget, energy and infrastructure just to name few. Remember these issues Senator Pete Kelly?
Daniel D. Grota is a retired U.S. Army veteran with over 21 years in service. He is also a Tuesday morning co-host on KVRF 89.5 FM, Radio Free Palmer. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman or its parent company, Wick Communications.