Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

02/18/2016 03:30 PM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
03:34:07 PM Start
03:34:53 PM SB174
04:54:08 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
         SB 174-REG. OF FIREARMS/KNIVES BY UNIV. OF AK                                                                      
3:34:53 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR HUGGINS  announced the  consideration of  SB 174.  He                                                               
said  the purpose  of the  meeting is  to take  public testimony.                                                               
Public testimony will remain open after the meeting.                                                                            
3:37:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CALLIE CONERTON,  Student Body  President, University  of Alaska-                                                               
Southeast,  testified in  opposition to  SB 174.  She listed  the                                                               
reasons  why  she opposes  the  bill.  She  said she  trusts  the                                                               
university  to  keep  her  safe with  their  rules  and  policies                                                               
regarding concealed carry. She opined  that the university is not                                                               
a place where  a person needs access to a  firearm. Some students                                                               
attending  UAS are  under  18  and are  dually  enrolled in  high                                                               
school and in  college. There are campus tours  for K-12 students                                                               
and student and staff with children.                                                                                            
She  pointed out  that  Alaska has  no  required concealed  carry                                                               
permits and there  is no guarantee that a person  knows the right                                                               
way to operate a firearm, is in  the right state of mind, and has                                                               
had no  criminal convictions. Guns  in dorms provide  easy access                                                               
to  weapons  by roommates  and  visitors  who could  operate  the                                                               
firearm  under  the  influence.  The bill  would  not  allow  the                                                               
university to  take guns  away in  risky circumstances.  She said                                                               
she knows basic firearm safety and  has friends who hunt, but she                                                               
would  not  feel safe  if  students  could  carry a  firearms  on                                                               
VICE CHAIR  HUGGINS requested Ms. Conerton  state her association                                                               
with the legislature.                                                                                                           
MS. CONERTON responded that she  is the student body president at                                                               
UAS and Vice Chair for the Coalition of Student Leaders.                                                                        
SENATOR GIESSEL and Senator Huggins thanked Ms. Conerton.                                                                       
3:40:53 PM                                                                                                                    
LORA  VESS, Ph.D.,  Assistant  Professor,  University of  Alaska-                                                               
Southeast, testified in strong opposition  to SB 174. She related                                                               
that she  is neither for  nor against  gun ownership or  use. She                                                               
maintained  that  institutions of  higher  learning  are not  the                                                               
appropriate setting  to wage a  battle over the right  to possess                                                               
firearms. She  said many of  her students are struggling  to find                                                               
their adult  identity and to  develop a  sense of self.  The bill                                                               
adds  another  potential  variable  into  their  transition  from                                                               
adolescence to adulthood.                                                                                                       
She said she does not want  to work in an environment where there                                                               
may  be   concealed  firearms  in  the   classroom  and  students                                                               
shouldn't  have  to learn  in  one.  She  concluded that  she  is                                                               
concerned that  the bill  is ideologically  driven with  a narrow                                                               
conceptualization of freedom  and liberty that has  nothing to do                                                               
with the  operations or  needs of  Alaska's universities,  or the                                                               
safety of  the thousands of  students, faculty,  staff, visitors,                                                               
and minors  on Alaska  campuses. She said  she stands  in support                                                               
with  the  Board of  Regents,  United  Students of  UAS,  Student                                                               
Services Council of UA, and others.                                                                                             
3:44:20 PM                                                                                                                    
COLIN  OSTERHOUT, representing  himself, testified  in opposition                                                               
to SB 174.  He said he works  for UAS and believes  that the bill                                                               
is a hasty attempt to pass  legislation that is due to personally                                                               
held beliefs, done so without  sufficient research or advice from                                                               
the university  system. He said  he is a  gun owner who  does not                                                               
feel  that firearms  belong on  campus and  that they  stifle the                                                               
free, creative expression  of ideas. He maintained that  UAS is a                                                               
special small  community and energy  and time should be  spent on                                                               
fostering that  community, and to  reach out to students  who may                                                               
be  struggling.  He  suggested addressing  security  concerns  in                                                               
other ways.  He shared his  experience at Virginia Tech  and said                                                               
he can envision  where the shootings occurred.  He concluded that                                                               
SB 174 is misguided.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  GARDNER thanked  Mr. Osterhout  for his  emails and  for                                                               
testifying in person.                                                                                                           
3:47:46 PM                                                                                                                    
PAUL SWETZOVF,  representing himself, testified in  support of SB                                                               
174.  He said  the  university cannot  have a  law  that is  more                                                               
restrictive  than  the  state's   law.  He  maintained  that  all                                                               
Alaskans  have the  constitutional right  to bear  arms. He  said                                                               
there has never  been a mass shooting where  firearms are allowed                                                               
on campus.  He referred to the  Sandy Hook shooting and  the lack                                                               
of defense  in that situation. He  said he would like  his son to                                                               
have a fighting chance if there were a shooting on campus.                                                                      
3:50:52 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID WEAVER,  representing himself,  testified in  opposition to                                                               
SB 174. He  said even as a  Republican and a gun  owner he cannot                                                               
support the  bill. As the  Director of University Housing  on the                                                               
Anchorage campus,  he said  he sees  students with  mental health                                                               
issues. He  requested the committee  consider the  potential side                                                               
effects from SB 174.                                                                                                            
3:52:49 PM                                                                                                                    
GRANT  REBNE, representing  himself, testified  in support  of SB                                                               
174.  He  suggested  that  the  bill  will  protect  students  on                                                               
university  campuses. He  provided personal  examples of  when he                                                               
wished he had had  a gun. He spoke of the  increase in gun crimes                                                               
and said that relates to the reduction in the right to carry.                                                                   
3:55:35 PM                                                                                                                    
RYEN-JASON  HENE, representing  himself, testified  in opposition                                                               
to SB  174. He  shared his  past and  current roles  working with                                                               
students  on campus  for fifteen  years. He  cited the  number of                                                               
student mental  health issues as  a reason  not to allow  guns on                                                               
campus. Allowing guns on campus  is a step backward in supporting                                                               
education  in  Alaska. As  of  December  14, 2015,  the  American                                                               
Association  of College  and University  had over  400 individual                                                               
colleges in  42 different states  that signed  statements against                                                               
allowing guns on college campuses.                                                                                              
3:57:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   GARDNER  asked   for  more   information  about   those                                                               
MR.  HENE  shared  the  website  keepgunsoffcampus.org  for  that                                                               
3:58:22 PM                                                                                                                    
GEORGIA  DEKEYSER,  representing  herself,  testified  in  strong                                                               
opposition to SB  174. She spoke of her job  as UAA's director of                                                               
the Student  Health and Counselor Center.  As an RN she  said she                                                               
has worked  with students  who were suicidal  and who  had mental                                                               
health  issues.  She  said  suicide  and  homicide  are  directly                                                               
correlated.  She concluded  by saying  the university  police are                                                               
available for student safety.                                                                                                   
3:59:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SANDIE GILLILAND,  representing herself, testified in  support of                                                               
SB  174. He  said he  works at  the Kenai  Peninsula College  and                                                               
would  like to  have more  protection  on campus.  He shared  the                                                               
"run, hide, fight" plan for when  there is a shooter situation on                                                               
campus. He  said he  opposes the Board  of Regents'  policies. He                                                               
suggested two amendments  to SB 174, requiring  a concealed carry                                                               
permit and excluding dorms from concealed carry zones.                                                                          
4:02:36 PM                                                                                                                    
STEPHANIE  QUEEN, representing  herself, testified  in opposition                                                               
to  SB 174.  She shared  that she  volunteers at  Kenai Peninsula                                                               
College.  She   maintained  that   many  crimes  on   campus  are                                                               
correlated with access to guns.  She called the Board of Regents'                                                               
current  policy,  measured  and  thoughtful, and  it  allows  for                                                               
student access to have guns on  campus. She said the policy keeps                                                               
people safe  so the university can  focus on its core  mission of                                                               
educating Alaskans.                                                                                                             
4:04:20 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR   HUGGINS  listed  people  that   are  available  for                                                               
4:04:52 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM  BOUTIN, representing  himself,  testified in  support of  SB                                                               
174. It  brings the  university into  compliance with  state law.                                                               
He thought the sponsor was willing to work with the university.                                                                 
4:06:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked for Chief Mallard's opinion of the bill.                                                                  
4:07:35 PM                                                                                                                    
KEITH MALLARD,  Chief of Police, University  of Alaska Fairbanks,                                                               
testified in opposition  to SB 174. He said he  has many concerns                                                               
about how the bill is currently  written and is hopeful about the                                                               
sponsor's willingness  to work with the  university. The proposed                                                               
amendments may  make it  workable. He did  not believe  that more                                                               
guns on campus would make it  safer, but would increase calls for                                                               
police service,  whether it  be for  unlawful discharge  or other                                                               
firearm access problems.                                                                                                        
4:08:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER asked  what the average response  time for campus                                                               
police is.                                                                                                                      
CHIEF MALLARD said about 2.5 minutes on the Fairbanks campus.                                                                   
SENATOR  GARDNER asked  if  the officers  have  had training  for                                                               
active shooters and rapid response.                                                                                             
CHIEF MALLARD said  yes. They actively coordinate  with other law                                                               
enforcement  agencies to  develop response  plans and  they offer                                                               
violent  intruder training  for  all on  campus.  They no  longer                                                               
focus  exclusively on  mass killing  events, because  violence is                                                               
more likely than the reality of a shooter.                                                                                      
4:11:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL provided  a hypothetical  example of  an assault                                                               
and asked when the response time would begin.                                                                                   
CHIEF MALLARD said from the point they are notified.                                                                            
SENATOR GIESSEL said after the event occurs.                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  gave an example  of a  stalker and a  victim and                                                               
asked whether  the victim's safety  is improved by both  having a                                                               
CHIEF  MALLARD  said the  question  is  do  firearms, in  and  of                                                               
themselves,  make somebody  safer.  He said  you  could make  the                                                               
argument  that  someone well-trained  with  a  firearm is  safer.                                                               
However, in  current law,  there is  no requirement  for training                                                               
for concealed  carry. He opined  that having access to  a firearm                                                               
does  not make  you  safer;  being trained  on  how  to use  that                                                               
firearm does add a level of safety.                                                                                             
4:12:59 PM                                                                                                                    
JON QUINONES, Student,  University of Alaska-Fairbanks, testified                                                               
in opposition  to SB 174. He  said he also serves  on the student                                                               
government. He maintained that rights  are not absolute, they are                                                               
conditional. He  thought "heroes"  might create  more casualties.                                                               
He pointed out  that sexual abuse is a problem  at the university                                                               
and he  suggested that sanctioned  weapon carries would  not help                                                               
the situation.                                                                                                                  
4:15:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  COONS, representing  himself,  testified in  support of  SB                                                               
174. He  said all those  that he  knows who carry  concealed have                                                               
had training. He said gun-free  zones have more shootings and the                                                               
most casualties, as compared to  zones where guns are allowed. He                                                               
spoke of rape  on campus and said those who  are unarmed are prey                                                               
and  victims. Alaskans  outside campus  are all  armed so  no one                                                               
should be afraid of them. He  concluded that 2 to 29 campuses are                                                               
armed and none have had stabbings or shootings.                                                                                 
4:18:07 PM                                                                                                                    
RUSSELL NEWELL, representing himself,  testified in opposition to                                                               
SB  174. He  provided an  example of  a gun-free  campus in  Utah                                                               
where the university police could not protect a speaker.                                                                        
4:20:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MAUREEN O'HANLON,  representing herself, testified  in opposition                                                               
to SB 174. She  reported that in her job as a  tutor at the Sitka                                                               
Student Success Center  she works with students  between the ages                                                               
of 14 to 18  on campus. She said guns on  campus will not protect                                                               
students and strangers with guns are not security officers.                                                                     
4:22:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CYRUS COOPER,  representing himself,  testified in support  of SB                                                               
174. He thought  that training should be  regulated for concealed                                                               
carry.  He said  citizens should  take action  to protect  others                                                               
during active  shooter situations,  not police.  He said  UAF did                                                               
not  even have  a  police  chief years  ago.  He maintained  that                                                               
students are  adults and the  university should  suspend students                                                               
with problems.                                                                                                                  
4:24:58 PM                                                                                                                    
DIXIE HOOD,  representing herself, testified in  opposition to SB                                                               
174. She shared her long experience  as a counselor. She spoke in                                                               
favor  of  the  rules  that prevent  concealed  carry  on  campus                                                               
because they provide a safe  campus for students, faculty, staff,                                                               
and others. She said the bill  is a horrifying proposal and would                                                               
create a  high risk environment  on all UA grounds.  Students are                                                               
still developing and they sometimes  feel impervious to risk. The                                                               
bill is a political pro-gun  proposal, not a constitutional right                                                               
4:27:31 PM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE SCHULTZ,  Vice Chancellor,  Student Affairs,  University of                                                               
Alaska-Anchorage, testified in  opposition to SB 174.  He said he                                                               
has  the responsibility,  for the  past 24  years, of  overseeing                                                               
student   life   operations,  including   on-campus   residential                                                               
communities,  physical   and  mental  health   services,  student                                                               
activities, and  the student code  of conduct. He shared  that he                                                               
has  been involved  in  more  than 1,000  incidents  the past  24                                                               
years, including  verbal and  physical assaults,  harassments and                                                               
disruptions in  the classroom, suicides, and  grossly intoxicated                                                               
individuals.  He stated  that he  cannot  think of  one of  those                                                               
incidents that would have been  better managed by the presence of                                                               
a concealed weapon.  He said he knows, based  on his professional                                                               
background and  training, that hundreds of  those incidents would                                                               
have escalated and required a  much more aggressive response from                                                               
university  officials   and  law  enforcement  if   weapons  were                                                               
He said the university allows weapons  on campus in a way that is                                                               
reasonable. The regulations are in  a category where firearms are                                                               
restricted in  sensitive places and are  presumptively lawful and                                                               
outside the constitutional protections.                                                                                         
He pointed out that suicide is  the second leading cause of death                                                               
for college students and thousands  more attempt suicide. He said                                                               
the  lack  of  immediate  access  to  a  means  is  the  greatest                                                               
advantage his staff has for  getting the student the intervention                                                               
they need. He said open  access to firearms on campus, especially                                                               
in  residence halls  and counseling  centers,  would worsen  this                                                               
serious  problem  as  suicide  attempts  involving  firearms  are                                                               
almost always  fatal. In the last  two years, there have  been 18                                                               
suicide  attempts,  29  incidents  of suicide  ideation,  and  42                                                               
incidences  of  assault,  which   includes  domestic  and  dating                                                               
violence, on the Anchorage campus.                                                                                              
He concluded  that at a  time when  the university is  focused on                                                               
getting more  students to graduate  on time, SB 174  will detract                                                               
attention,  consume more  of already  constrained resources,  and                                                               
for some  students, interfere  with their  ability to  learn. The                                                               
overwhelming  majority  of the  4,400  universities  in the  U.S.                                                               
prohibit the carrying of firearms on their campuses.                                                                            
4:30:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  requested he send  his written testimony  to the                                                               
MR. SCHULTZ said  he would and that he has  already sent a letter                                                               
to Chair Dunleavy.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked  for more  information  about  "consuming                                                               
MR.  SCHULTZ said  the university  trains and  relies heavily  on                                                               
student residency  advisors who  are 18-20  years old  to monitor                                                               
and confront  the behavior  of their  peers. The  introduction of                                                               
weapons  into these  high density  and  sometimes highly  charged                                                               
living  environments would  mean that  student advisors  could no                                                               
longer be  the first  line of  intervention. The  university will                                                               
need  to  seriously  consider   adding  trained  law  enforcement                                                               
officers. The  same could be  said for the  work that goes  on in                                                               
the health and counseling centers.                                                                                              
VICE CHAIR  HUGGINS shared  a story  of having  a shotgun  in his                                                               
room. He asked if things have changed.                                                                                          
MR. SCHULTZ said  the university does allow weapons  on campus in                                                               
a reasonable fashion.                                                                                                           
VICE CHAIR  HUGGINS spoke of  presumed guilt instead  of presumed                                                               
innocence in policies for those who commit sexual assault.                                                                      
4:33:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SCHULTZ looked  at it differently. He said  the university is                                                               
very  concerned  about incidents  of  sexual  assault on  college                                                               
campuses.  The   investigation  is   not  focusing   on  personal                                                               
protection  at the  time of  the  attack. Most  of the  incidents                                                               
occur  during  dating  violence  and  high  intoxication.  To  be                                                               
effective  in changing  that culture  on  campus, the  university                                                               
provides  information and  programs  focusing  on respect  before                                                               
students even get to college.                                                                                                   
VICE CHAIR  HUGGINS requested the university's  written policy on                                                               
sexual assault.                                                                                                                 
4:34:13 PM                                                                                                                    
ARNOLD LIEBELT, representing himself,  testified in opposition to                                                               
SB 174. He thought the system had  failed in order to get to this                                                               
point  in society.  He  said guns  are  inherently dangerous  and                                                               
humans are inherently  unpredictable and to put  the two together                                                               
on college  campuses is a bad  idea. He understood the  intent of                                                               
the bill, but thought putting more  guns into the hands of people                                                               
on campuses  was not going  to solve the problem,  but complicate                                                               
it. He  did not understand the  analogy of "bad guys  with guns."                                                               
If the problem  is that there are  too many guns in  the hands of                                                               
bad people,  the solution is to  get the guns away  from them. He                                                               
said  that 19  states have  passed this  type of  legislation. He                                                               
suggested not  rushing to join  that group. He concluded  that he                                                               
considers  the   bill  to  be  "state   overreach."  Universities                                                               
understand this  issue very well, and  if they are not  on board,                                                               
the bill should not pass.                                                                                                       
4:37:14 PM                                                                                                                    
TIMOTHY ROBINSON,  representing himself, testified  in opposition                                                               
to  SB  174. He  pointed  out  that  the  committee has  heard  a                                                               
resounding "do not pass this bill."  He thought the bill would be                                                               
defeated  if  everyone could  vote  on  it.  He said  that  maybe                                                               
faculty should be allowed to have  guns, but students do not need                                                               
to be running around with guns  on campus. Young people are prone                                                               
to swings of emotion. He shared that his son committed suicide.                                                                 
4:38:48 PM                                                                                                                    
MATTHEW OSTRANDER, representing  himself, testified in opposition                                                               
to  SB  174.  He said  he  is  vice  president  of the  Union  of                                                               
Students,  the  recognized  government organization  at  UAA.  He                                                               
stated  opposition  to  concealed   carry  when  there  are  K-12                                                               
students on college  campuses. He gave examples  of when students                                                               
are  on  campus,  such  as   for  drama,  debate,  and  forensics                                                               
tournaments. He suggested adding an  amendment to the effect that                                                               
concealed carry cannot be in areas where K-12 students are.                                                                     
4:40:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  asked if  it is  practical to  exclude concealed                                                               
carry on campus when there are K-12 programs on campus.                                                                         
MR.  OXANDER thought  there could  be areas  that are  set apart,                                                               
such  as eliminating  specific areas  and certain  buildings from                                                               
concealed  carry. He  agreed  it  could mean  a  complete ban  of                                                               
concealed carry.                                                                                                                
4:42:16 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
4:43:58 PM                                                                                                                    
JOE   BYRNES,   Staff,   Representative  Kelley,   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, provided  information regarding SB 174.  He said the                                                               
section of  the bill  regarding civil  immunity was  suggested by                                                               
the  university. He  noted  there were  two  people available  to                                                               
answer questions.                                                                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS  referred to line  19 on page  2 of the  bill and                                                               
asked how the university would be immune from civil liability.                                                                  
4:45:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT  COOPER, General  Counsel,  University of  Alaska-Fairbanks,                                                               
addressed the civil  immunity issues in SB 174. He  said there is                                                               
nothing  to prevent  someone from  filing a  lawsuit against  the                                                               
university. The  university maintains that an  immunity provision                                                               
in  the  statute  could  result  in   a  move  to  dismiss  -  an                                                               
affirmative defense  and an  absolute bar  to the  litigation. He                                                               
offered to prepare a memo on that issue.                                                                                        
4:47:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER spoke  of liability  waivers not  holding water.                                                               
She asked if an immunity is granted in statute it is different.                                                                 
MR.  COOPER replied  it  would  be different;  it  is similar  to                                                               
immunities found in Title IX and  in the Good Samaritan Act which                                                               
are more effective than a liability waiver.                                                                                     
4:48:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER asked how effective it  would be - 100 percent or                                                               
having some risk.                                                                                                               
MR. COOPER could not say it would be 100 percent effective.                                                                     
4:49:18 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
4:49:48 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR HUGGINS noted more testifiers online.                                                                                
JAMES SQUYRES,  representing himself, testified in  support of SB                                                               
174. He said the gun-free zone  is unconstitutional and is a kill                                                               
zone.  He said  the average  gun fight  is 2.5  seconds. Students                                                               
should be trusted with this right.                                                                                              
4:51:14 PM                                                                                                                    
NEAL KOENEMAN, Student,  UAA, testified in opposition  to SB 174.                                                               
He said he  does not feel safe  at a campus where, to  be just as                                                               
safe as  the next  person, he has  to be armed  all the  time. He                                                               
stated that  if he  was to  carry a handgun,  he would  not trust                                                               
himself or other students to use a gun in a fire fight.                                                                         
4:52:21 PM                                                                                                                    
HAYLEY CAVITT, Student,  UAA, testified in opposition  to SB 174.                                                               
She  voiced concern  that faculty  members would  be put  at risk                                                               
under this bill as they often have to deal with unruly students.                                                                
She said she would hate to see them leave the university because                                                                
they feared for their own lives.                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR HUGGINS kept public testimony open and held SB 174 in                                                                

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