CAM­PUS GUN BILL sent back to panel.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL R. WICKLINE

The Arkansas Se­nate on Mon­day voted to send back to com­mit­tee a bill that would al­low some con­cealed-carry per­mit hold­ers to carry their guns on pub­lic col­lege cam­puses, af­ter the bill’s Se­nate spon­sor said he no longer fa­vors its cur­rent ver­sion.

At the re­quest of Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Do­rado — the Se­nate spon­sor of House Bill 1249 by Rep. Char­lie Collins, R-Fayet­teville — the Se­nate voted 21-10 to re­turn the bill to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee over the ob­jec­tion of the panel’s chair­man, Sen. Jeremy Hutchin­son, R-Lit­tle Rock.

HB1249 would al­low any Arkansan who is at least 25, has a per­mit and has up to 16 hours of ac­tive-shooter train­ing to carry con­cealed weapons on cam­puses.

The orig­i­nal ver­sion of the bill con­tained no train­ing or age limit and ap­plied only to fac­ulty and staff mem­bers with per­mits.

On Wed­nes­day, the Se­nate adopted Garner’s amend­ment to put the bill in its cur­rent form. Garner said his amend­ment was a com­pro­mise be­tween Gov. Asa Hutchin­son, Se­nate Repub­li­can leader Jim Hen­dren of Sul­phur Springs, Sen. Hutchin­son, Collins and him.

But Garner said Mon­day he’s not go­ing to ask the Se­nate to vote for a flawed bill. He wants the com­mit­tee to dis­cuss fur­ther amend­ments.

“I’m not go­ing to let the Garner amend­ment be called the anti-gun bill mov­ing for­ward,” he said. He said he has

Af­ter­ward, Garner said, “We are try­ing to reach a com­pro­mise be­tween both sides now be­cause I heard from dozens and dozens of peo­ple in my district who were dis­pleased with the amend­ment I pro­posed” last week.

in­tro­duced Se­nate Bill 444 — a “shell” bill lack­ing de­tails — with the aim of cre­at­ing “a con­sti­tu­tional carry bill” that would elim­i­nate the need for the state’s con­cealed-carry per­mit pro­gram.

Re­fer­ring to Garner’s re­quest, Sen. Hutchin­son told se­na­tors that “this has been kind of a night­mare sce­nario here.”

HB1249 has been on the Se­nate floor for a few days and “other peo­ple out­side the cham­ber have ex­pressed their dis­plea­sure” with the leg­is­la­tion, Hutchin­son said. If Garner wants to amend the bill, Garner should ask the Se­nate to con­sider adding his amend­ment to the bill, he said. He said he wor­ried that an amend­ment at­tached to the bill in com­mit­tee won’t be suc­cess­ful in the Se­nate.

Af­ter­ward, Garner said, “We are try­ing to reach a com­pro­mise be­tween both sides now be­cause I heard from dozens and dozens of peo­ple in my district who were dis­pleased with the amend­ment I pro­posed” last week.

He said he be­lieves that there is “a happy medium some­where be­tween” an amend­ment pro­posed by Sen. Linda Collins- Smith, R-Poc­a­hon­tas, and the cur­rent ver­sion of the bill. Collins-Smith’s pro­posed amend­ment would al­low any per­mit holder to carry a weapon on cam­pus and not re­quire train­ing. Per­mit hold­ers must be at least 21 un­der state law. The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion sup­ports Collins-Smith’s pro­posal, said An­thony Roulette, state li­ai­son for the NRA.

Un­der a 2013 law, col­leges have opted out of al­low­ing staff mem­bers with per­mits to carry weapons on cam­pus. Col­lege ad­min­is­tra­tors, as well as cam­pus and city po­lice de­part­ments, have largely op­posed HB1249.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/JEFF MITCHELL

Sen. Trent Garner asks to send House Bill 1249 back to com­mit­tee for an amend­ment Mon­day on the Se­nate floor.

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