In an effort to ensure that Alaska school districts enlist qualified adults to carry concealed guns for the protection of students and educators, State Sen. Shelley Hughes has filed a bill entitled, “The Safe Schools Act.”

Senate Bill 173 aims to deter active shooting tragedies from occurring in Alaska’s K-12 schools.

According to Hughes, she was inspired to file the bill after being approached by a retired teacher who previously worked at Bethel High School when a tragic shooting occurred on Feb. 19, 1997. That day, two people were killed, and two others injured when 16-year-old student Evan Ramsey arrived at the school with a shotgun. Ramsey shot and killed 15-year-old Josh Palacios and Principal Ron Edwards, before surrendering to police.

“If we do nothing, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Hughes said upon filing her bill. “This is a critical conversation, and it is time for critical decision-making. If we want to prevent the deaths of school children in Alaska, we need to act. If we wait to address this matter until after precious children have died, what a dreadful shame and inexcusable mistake that will be.”

“Our students deserve every opportunity to participate in our education system without fear of losing their lives,” Hughes added.

According to K-12 Shooting Database, there were 346 shooting incidents in 2023 resulting in 249 victims either wounded or killed. Over the past five years, the number of school shootings has skyrocketed with 1,073 students and staff being wounded or killed nationwide.

 “Like you, over the years I’ve watched with horror the news reports of shootings at schools: Columbine, Parkland, Uvalde,” Hughes said. “I’ve wondered too like you, what if there had been intervention to help that person? But I’ve also asked, what if the school had been better prepared? What if that school campus had permitted concealed carry? Maybe the incident would not have occurred at all.”

Hughes emphasized that every second, every minute counts when a person begins to shoot in a school building.

“Due to distance, when law enforcement response in Alaska can take from a few minutes to a few hours, or with inclement weather in remote communities, even longer, our children, our teachers and staff are sitting ducks,” she noted. “Our officers do their best to respond quickly but Alaska is a state of mammoth proportions. We need well-trained individuals on-site who can respond immediately.” 

Current Alaska law does not prevent superintendents and school boards from setting policy to allow concealed carry, but none have done so.

Hughes bill would change this by requiring schools to “grant one or more persons who meet the requirements” of the law to “carry a concealed handgun on the person on school grounds for defensive use.” The only exception is when no qualified person can be found.

School districts would also need to develop a written policy establishing the standards and requirements for conceal carry in schools, and document and fund firearm training and education for those who conceal carry in schools.

Hughes said she hopes her bill will give communities a path forward to begin assigning concealed carry duty to “trusted, stable, respected, and well-trained individuals.”

“Our students deserve every opportunity to participate in our education system without fear of losing their lives,” Hughes added.


— The bill is set for its first public hearing on Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. SB 173 is the second item on the agenda, but people who call in will have an opportunity to weigh in at this time.

— For those who wish to call in to testify, the number is (844) 586-9085. Click here for addition information on how to testify during a public hearing.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Bill would require Alaska schools to have trusted adults carry handguns on campuses

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    Thank you Senator Hugh’s! It’s about time someone finally steps up to protect our children. How long before this program can take effect? I hope sooner than later! Will the democrats agree or will they fight this bill and allow children to become targets?

    • Steve P Peterson says:

      As much as I hate to say it, Democrats welcome gun carnage (if perpetrated by white males) because it brings them another increment closer to gun control. Remember, they are communists, and they never waste a crisis. Communists literally hate guns in the hands of average citizens, but are happy to allow our enemies to have them.

      • Lucinda says:

        Steve, is there anyone in America that welcomes school shootings? Maybe gun fetishists that envy the capacity and type of weapon but it sure as hell isn’t Democrats nor is it Republicans. No one welcomed the 18 year old shooter at Uvalde whose AK49 so badly mangled a 9 year old girl that she was unrecognizable, her face was torn off and she could only be identified by her shoes. Had Texas allowed a bill to raise the legal age from 18 to 21, nineteen children and two adults would be alive today. Call it gun control if that supports your loathing of those different from you. I’d call it an easy and effective way to reduce catastrophes like Uvalde.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Welcome to reality hughes! To compliment your supporting this bill is stupid mam. Our society has lost all sense of accountability and law keeping! Conceal and carry is common in church! You have been one of our useless lawmakers for some time now! Look around you today amongst your law creating cronies and explain to all of us how you are bringing any accountability to the worst lawbreakers of all! GOVERNMENT!!!!!

  • Justin Michesloff says:

    – Dave Maxwell, stay on point here. This is exactly the type of common sense legislation needed to protect our society. Do not change the focus of the conversation to anything else. This legislation would provide protection to our most vulnerable citizens in a place where none exists. Cheers –

    • DaveMaxwell says:

      Just in
      I am on point! Leaders that are useless is now the norm! Children, I’m sure most will agree have become the fallout of incompetent baffoons pretending to be leaders!
      Legislative bickering is no longer a plausible answer to what we’re facing today! What’s the answer? A gun ? Or reform society by enforcing the law and holding it accountable!

    • Lucinda says:

      Justin. Are you a follower of the NRA propaganda that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun? In Uvalde, 376 trained and well armed law enforcement personnel could not stop an 18 year old with an AK 47. Adding more guns to a school is exactly the opposite of what we should do.

      • Coliseum in the Snow says:

        Why is it that 376 trained and well armed law enforcement personnel “could not stop an 18 year old with an AK 47”? Is an AK 47 so big and scary that those men couldn’t act, or were those men following orders from an inept command, or perhaps, a command with an agenda?

      • Justin Michesloff says:

        How many of those 376 trained and well armed law enforcement personnel were inside the school? Imagine for yourself what would have happened if a teacher who was conceal carry trained and qualified had been onsite to stop this carnage in real time from the inside? What made the shooter so confident that a school was the best place to commit such terror, the knowledge that he would be the only one armed in the school? To your point about a good guy with a gun, are not the law enforcement personnel good guys with guns? And why does the presence of an armed security guard mitigate most criminal attempts? Your argument quickly falls apart. An armed society is a polite society.

        And to Dave Maxwell’s point, yes, enforce the current laws that we have on the books right now. This includes concealed carry laws and gun ownership. Taking firearms away from the general population will not solve these societal problems. This is a people problem, not a gun problem. People kill people. Take away a gun, people will use an SUV, baseball bat, kitchen knife, you imagine it, the criminal will use it.

        It is high time that the focus goes where it needs to be, the people, not the tool.

      • Ceak says:

        because they refused to enter the building. It does no good to stand around and watch with a gun. The good guys have to take action.

  • Lucinda says:

    Coliseum: I was surprised to learn that many of the LE responders WERE afraid of the AK 47. They, better than the rest of us, know the destructive power of the assault rifle. “Compare the damage an AR-15 [similar to a AK47] and a 9mm handgun can do to the human body: “One looks like a grenade went off in there,” says Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona. “The other looks like a bad knife cut.”

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Lucy, if they were afraid of the weapon in that situation, I hate to see what our woke military is like out on the battlefield. I imagine that their mascara runs as they huddle together crying woke tears. Your story that they are afraid is a “carry-on-the-narrative” story to rewrite history and destroy the truth. All of those LEO will have to answer to God Almighty for their lack of response to save the children as they all obeyed their order to stand-down. Bunch of losers!

    • FreedomAK says:

      You’re coloring WAY outside the lines Lucinda,but it’s nice to see you further illustrate your naïveté. Saul Alinsky wouldn’t be very happy to see you break the Rules for Radicals rule # 2
      “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
      When you do, you just appear desperate and childish. Try again.

  • Coliseum in the Snow says:

    What does it mean to be “well armed” and “trained” if nearly 400 are “afraid” to go into a school to defend innocent children and unarmed teachers? Shame on them! They should turn in their badges if it was fear that kept the lot of them from entering the building! …but I don’t believe it was…376 trained and well armed men were following orders…

  • FreedomAK says:

    Shall not be infringed. There’s the law. Full stop. These political demigods seem to think only the government can make the decision to qualify, train and permit only those of us deemed worthy to exercise the right to self protection. The rest are at the mercy of criminals who pay no attention to Gun-Free Zone signs.

  • Lucinda says:

    Full stop? I don’t think so. The debate about the scope of the 2A is long and diverse. It doesn’t stop with FreedomAK.

    • Coliseum in the Snow says:

      Lol, debate all you want. I don’t believe FreedomAK was claiming the rights to “shall not be infringed.”