Arkansas Is the Latest State to Propose New Campus Carry Bill

Arkansas has proposed a campus carry legislation, but whether it will overcome some complications remains to be seen. House Bill 1249, sponsored by Republican Charlie Collins from Fayetteville, would prevent any attempt by Arkansas’ public universities and colleges to ban faculty and staff members with concealed-carry permits from taking guns to work.

The bill easily passed in the House before the Senate made changes to the bill which would require employees who want to carry to take at least 16 hours of active shooter and related gun safety training before bringing their guns to work at colleges and universities and into classrooms.

Collins said the Senate’s amendments “virtually ruins” the bill. He also said, though, that he is optimistic that the requirements can be scaled back. If they are scaled back, they may still be required to take somewhere in the range of 8 and up to 16 hours of training instead of the mandated 16. The House version of the bill was approved 71-22 and would allow full-time faculty and staff members but not students or the general public to carry guns in campus buildings if they have a concealed carry license. That bill did not require any additional training.

The Senate will be looking at the bill again this week, where they could make more changes to it. Senators are hearing from people on both sides of the debate. Concealed carry instructors told the reporter that the state’s concealed carry licensing process does not require any sort of live fire training, so this requirement would “Raise the bar” for being armed on campus. Nine of 10 universities in Arkansas said they opposed the campus carry bill. Arkansas Online interviewed one Henderson State University professor, Megan Hickerson, who has a concealed carry license but opposes the campus carry legislation. She is worried that the new law will move the university closer to allowing students to bring guns to the classroom. Educators are worried that if students are armed, they may have to deal with a confrontation from an angry student who also has a gun.

According to the Arkansas Online article,¬†Arkansas and 23 other states allow colleges and universities to decide whether to ban concealed weapons. Seventeen states ban concealed-carry weapons on college campuses, eight states allow it and one — Tennessee — allows only full-time faculty and staff members to carry concealed guns. The Arkansas law was formatted to closely follow the Tennessee law. The Tennessee law went into effect July 1, 2016 and does not require active-shooter training, but faculty members who carry must register with campus or local police departments.