Guns on campus bill passes House; Gov. Hutchinson to sign

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 1,546 views 

Concealed carry permit holders with eight additional hours of training will be able to carry a weapon on college campuses after a vote Wednesday (March 15) by the Arkansas House on a bill Gov. Asa Hutchinson will sign.

The vote on House Bill 1249 by Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, was 71-18 with two members voting present. The bill has already passed the Senate. Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s spokesman, J.R. Davis, said he would sign the bill.

The bill allows licensees to carry their weapons at public and state-supported universities along with public buildings, including the Capitol grounds, if they have completed an eight-hour active shooter training designed by the Arkansas State Police. They also can carry a weapon in places of worship, bars and certain restaurants, unless those establishments post a notice prohibiting guns at those locations.

Exceptions include courtrooms and administrative hearings, K-12 public schools, and state prison facilities.

A much different version of the bill passed the House earlier in the session. The original bill allowed only faculty and staff with a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon on college campuses.

The bill eliminated an opt out provision contained in legislation passed in 2013 and also sponsored by Collins. Under that law, public higher education institutions could allow their staff members to carry a weapon, but they also could opt out of allowing them to do so. All of the state’s colleges and universities opted out.

Once it reached the Senate floor, however, it began undergoing changes, including a training component that originally was 16 hours. When the National Rifle Association announced its opposition, the bill changed again to its current form.

Lars Dalseide, public affairs media liaison, for the National Rifle Association sent this statement to Talk Business & Politics: “The National Rifle Association applauds the passage of HB 1249, a personal protection bill to strengthen Arkansas’s current carry system. With Governor Hutchinson’s signature, law-abiding citizens with enhanced permits will be allowed to defend themselves if attacked by vicious criminals while on campus, out to dinner, or visiting state buildings.”