The NRA, which calls most shots on gun bills in Arkansas, now opposes the campus carry bill primarily because it adds an additional training requirement before anyone 25 and older can take a concealed weapon on a public college campus.
The gun lobby said it opposes the amendment added by Sen. Trent Garner, a NRA backer, that continued the extra training that had been required in a hostile amendment by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson but also widened the ability to go on campus to anyone of age with the additional training. Originally, the bill only allowed certified staff to carry weapons.
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The Senate approved Garner’s amendment today and a Senate vote on the bill is likely Thursday. In a brief debate on the amendment today, Sen. Will Bond criticized the expansion of gun carrying privileges and noted that the additonal certification “may” require 16 hours of training, but doesn’t mandate it. He noted that the average agen of community college students is 28. The amendment was adopted 21-10. It remains to be seen if circumstances will be changed by the NRA’s news position.
Said the NRA:
.. the Garner amendment maintains the excessive 16 hour training requirement and a patchwork of prohibited places in addition to setting an arbitrary campus carry age limit of 25.
Our goal is to make public college and university campuses safer by removing restrictions on law-abiding citizens carrying firearms on those campuses. Rest assured, we will be back every year until the legislature passes and governor signs a true campus carry bill that doesn’t impose excessive training requirements or place arbitrary age restrictions on who can protect themselves on college and university campuses in Arkansas. Whether they are employees, students, or visitors, those who have already gone through the process of obtaining an Arkansas Concealed Handgun Carry License (CHCL), which requires taking a course in the safe handling of firearms, should be trusted to act as safely and responsibly on public college and university campuses as they do throughout the rest of Arkansas.
That patchwork of exempt places includes daycares, a hospital, the Clinton School near the presidential library and other places.
If the NRA loses this one, it has served notice that it won’t quit until there are guns carried anywhere by just about anyone.
The Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense denounced the bill as amended:
A recent amendment – which added some minimal training requirements, but which also allows students and visitors to carry guns on campus – goes in the opposite direction of addressing the concerns raised by university presidents, law enforcement and citizens throughout the bill’s consideration. If this bill is enacted, students will have to wonder whether the student, professor or visitor walking next to them on campus is carrying a hidden, loaded gun. There’s no way that this legislation won’t negatively affect our schools if it becomes the law. We will continue to fight this dangerous proposal as it progresses, including urging Governor Hutchinson to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.