The Senate today likely will endorse the cobbled-up amendments to what started as a campus carry bill and leave the mess to be cleaned up over the coming months and years.
The NRA will fight to preserve the hugely expanded version of the bill signed by the governor last week, but it seems Razorback football is a more powerful force than the gun lobby. The amendments will provide it and others with a means to keep guns out, but that exemption might not be as broad as it sounds.
Understand Rep. Charlie Collins’ carry-everywhere legislation opened ALL college athletic events to concealed carry permit holders once they get eight more hours of additional gun instruction of some sort. Understand that the amendments that provide exceptions in the bill to be voted today would apply to ALL college athletic events.
I doubt it will be the general practice. I think the exception is so onerous and requires so much effort and money on the part of colleges that, realistically, colleges will regularly seek concealed weapon exceptions only for major events — Razorback football and basketball, perhaps other Division I football games and a handful of others.
Here’s why I say this:
College athletic events will be concealed-weapon-free only after approval of a security plan by the State Police. (Cry for the State Police. They have this new burden, plus the new burden of additional concealed carry training, plus the apparent necessity to trim jobs based on recent tightened budget figures submitted by the governor.)
Each security plan must include according to the law:
(A) Total projected attendance;
(B) Number of entrances and exits;
(C) Number of on-site private security personnel;
(D) Number of on-site law enforcement officers;
(E) Number of on-site first responders;
(F) Location of parking areas and number of motor vehicles projected to use the parking areas;
(G) Routes for emergency vehicles;
(H) Locations of all restrooms, stairs, and elevators;
(I) Evacuation procedures;
(J) Security communication protocol;
(K) Location of emergency vehicles;
(L) Public communication protocol; and
(M) Bomb threat and active shooter procedures.
Security measures under this section shall include without limitation:
(1) Security personnel or law enforcement officers on-site;
(2) Use of a magnetometer or other metal-detecting device designed to detect a weapon;
(3) Barricades; or
(4) Other measures or devices designed to protect the public from a security threat.
An entity shall submit a security plan to the department under this section annually or no later than five (5) days before a scheduled collegiate athletic event.
The department shall approve or disapprove a security plan for a scheduled collegiate athletic event within seventy-two (72) hours of the receipt of the security plan.
Otherwise the department shall approve or disapprove a security plan within ten (10) business days.
Upon approval of a security plan, an entity shall post a notification at all firearm-sensitive areas that possession of a concealed handgun is prohibited.
A security plan submitted under this section is exempt from public
disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act
Let’s get real. Will such plans be filed for every soccer game at UA-Monticello? A women’s swim meet at Little Rock? A cross-country race at Henderson? Will magnetometers, barricades and security be put in place for the hundreds of lightly attended events at public campuses around Arkansas each year?
I doubt it. The State Police doesn’t have nearly enough staff to handle that paperwork. Or the colleges the money to provide additional security measures.
No, the steeplechasers and their fans in Magnolia will just have to trust their safety to the good guys with concealed weapons. Just as in every classroom, library, dining hall and dorm lobby in Arkansas, where concealed weapons are now allowed. Which few legislators seem much concerned about.
Razorback football? That’s something else. The SEC spoke and the legislature listened. (Oh, OK, the Sun Belt spoke, too, but really, who cares?)
I focus here on the sports hysteria. It overlooks the breathtaking expansion of guns into community mental health centers, libraries, courthouses, bars, churches, airports and other places too numerous to list. Sit in on an emotional custody case sometime and then think how you feel about the knowledge that contestants are sitting in the hallway outside the courtroom with hidden Glocks.
Consider, too, the thoughtless exceptions. When 30,000 people turn out at War Memorial Stadium for the Salt Bowl in 2018, you can be sure a generous sprinkling of weapons will be concealed under camo and other clothing worn by Benton and Bryant high fans.
You can see from Georgia, by the way, why the NRA was so proud of the “compromise” originally signed in Arkansas. It is simply breathtaking in reach. Not just campuses were opened to guns, but just about everything else from churches to bars, with parks and public hospitals thrown in. Even Georgia, where the governor has previously vetoed a campus carry bill, has limited its reach to campuses and has even toned down that in sending another bill to the governor this year. They, too, exempted sports venues, but also dorms and fraternity and sorority houses.
If the Chi Os can’t pack, what’s the point of a gun bill anyway?