Sen. Trent Garner, the Tom Cotton employee who joined the Arkansas Senate this year, has proposed an amendment to the campus carry bill that would open campuses to anyone 25 or older with a concealed carry permit if they receive an additional 16 hours of State Police training. Universities wouldn’t be notified of who on campus has such a permit.
Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson said he approved of the amendment.
The amendment includes some exceptions for special events and the University Hospital in Little Rock, but it mostly delivers what Garner promised last week when he unsuccessfully opposed an amendment by Hutchinson that added the 16-hour, active-shooter training provision to a bill requiring that public colleges allow staff carry permitted concealed weapons. Rep. Charlie Collins, sponsor of the legislation, said the amendment was unacceptable to him. He’s said since that he and Hutchinson were continuing to work on a possible compromise.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he prefers the existing law, in which college boards may choose to allow staff with permits to carry concealed weapons. None has chosen to do so.
Collins’ bill passed the House and got Senate committee approval, but has been returned to committee since adoption of Hutchinson’s amendment last week. The Senate is meeting this afternoon but no committees are meeting. The amendment will likely be taken up Wednesday.
The relevant portion of Garner’s amendment:
A licensee who intends to carry a concealed handgun in the dings and on the grounds of a public university, public college, or community college is required to complete an active shooter or related training program as prescribed and approved by the Director of the Department of Arkansas State Police.
A training program administered under this subsection may consist of up to sixteen (16) hours and may include:
(i) Active shooter training;
(ii) Defensive tactics;
(iii) Weapon retention; and
(iv) Handgun safety and maintenance.
The costs of the training program under this subsection shall not exceed a nominal amount.
The Department of Arkansas State Police shall maintain a list of licensees who have successfully completed a training program under this subsection.
Training required under this subsection shall need to be renewed after the time period for which a license to carry a concealed handgun is valid throughout the state under § 5-73-302.
A licensee who completes a training program under this subsection and is at least twenty-five (25) years of age shall be given an endorsement by the department on his or her license that the person is permitted to carry a concealed handgun in the buildings and on the grounds of a public university, public college, or community college.
There is no requirement that colleges be notified of who might be authorized to carry a weapon on their campuses. Hutchinson’s amendment required that notification by staff, though it protected the information from public disclosure. Gun lobbyists objected even to this notification, saying anti-gun administrators would take retribution against permitted gun carriers.
Given the fierce college opposition to more guns on campus, it’s hard to figure they’d see Garner’s idea as an improvement. Hutchinson told me they prefer the training requirement, however, over a lack of one. He acknowledged the bill would expand the universe of those able to carry guns on campus, but he said the training requirement might actually decrease those with guns on campus against the original legislation.;
“Very few people will do it,” Hutchinson predicted. “This will give people pause,” he said. He said he hoped those who obtained the additional training would be people truly interested in providing protection and would also be programmed by training to use guns correctly. “They won’t think a gun is the first option whenever a situation arises.”
Get ready campuses. The guns are coming. The amendment would have the law take effect in September.
ALSO: AP says Gov. Asa Hutchinson was in on the “compromise,” a word to which opponents of campus carry are objecting. The right and the farther right have agreed, said one. Hutchinson said he’s always favored more guns on campus for security, but for people properly trained.
ALSO: Democratic House leader Michael John Gray issued a statement criticizing the deal and urging the governor to continue to resist.