NRA 1, Waltons 0.
That’s my score on news that the University of Arkansas System legal counsel has concluded that federal law does NOT require a 1,000-foot gun-free radius around buildings on the UA-Little Rock campus to be used by the Walton-backed e-Stem charter school.
(You could actually put the Waltons on both sides of this equation. They control much at UA thanks to the $300 million campus gift some years ago that included formation of their charter school-touting propaganda unit.)
But, more seriously, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article on this decision left me a little confused. It said:
The federal prohibition does not apply to the possession of a firearm if the individual possessing it is licensed to do so by the state and law enforcement authorities of the state have verified that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license.
Why wouldn’t that override apply to buildings as well? Various people think not. They also seem to find some distinction between a simple concealed carry permit and the new enhanced carry permit that opens the door to gun toting on college campuses. I’m not aware the new law drew any such specific distinction on powers except as to colleges.
Republican Sen. Trent Garner, the gun-mad sponsor of the campus carry bill along with Rep. Charlie Collins, opines that it “seems” like his law was intended to create a license to carry on school campuses. So, then, why not the K-12 structures on college grounds, too? But if state law overrides his bill on school buildings, why doesn’t it also apply to surroundings, too? There was also this:
And a spokesman for the National Rifle Association said the federal law did not apply to those with concealed-carry licenses.
‘The Gun Free Zone Act allows persons with a valid concealed carry permit issued by the state to carry in a school in that state,” said Lars Dalseide, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association. “However, Arkansas law applies as well and prohibits even those with a carry permit from possessing a firearm at schools, although there are exceptions.”
So, it does but it doesn’t. But school grounds are also exempt from gun carrying under state law, not just the school buildings. If the special license can override that at UA-Little Rock, why not the building itself?
I credit Bill Sadler with one remark I understood.
“We are in a position where not only law enforcement as a whole — because it will not just be left to state police — and public universities are beginning to realize that there’s a lot to be learned about how these laws will be enforced and how these laws will impact where a firearm can be carried,” he said.
In other words: We don’t know yet what we don’t know about guns on campus. Still to be heard from is gun-toting Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Hard to imagine her finding a place NOT made safer by a gun should she be asked for an official opinion.
But, for now, e-Stem boss John Bacon apparently will NOT be able to deliver on his promise to extend a gun-free zone to the maximum extent possible around his school, an idea that originally would have covered most of the main UALR campus (and also raised questions about many public schools in proximity to other colleges around the state.) I’m not sure that just because the UA System lawyer and Trent Garner say something is so that it makes it so. This one might need a court resolution before it’s over.