Ar­kan­sas Se­nate adds train­ing re­quire­ment to cam­pus gun bill

Texarkana Gazette - - STATE - By An­drew DeMillo

LIT­TLE ROCK—The Ar­kan­sas Se­nate voted Thurs­day to re­quire col­lege and univer­sity em­ploy­ees who want to carry con­cealed hand­guns on cam­pus to first un­dergo ad­di­tional train­ing, prompt­ing a Repub­li­can law­maker to ex­pand the cam­pus-carry pro­posal to al­low some stu­dents and vis­i­tors to par­tic­i­pate.

The Se­nate voted 22-10 to add a pro­vi­sion man­dat­ing 16 hours of ac­tive shooter train­ing to a House-backed mea­sure re­quir­ing the schools to al­low fac­ulty and staff with a li­cense to carry a con­cealed firearm on cam­pus. The Se­nate is ex­pected to vote next week on the pro­posal.

“No­body is claim­ing 16 hours is go­ing to make you an ex­pert,” Repub­li­can Sen. Jeremy Hutchin­son said of the train­ing pro­vi­sion, which had been re­jected a day ear­lier by a Se­nate panel. “But 16 hours is bet­ter than no hours.”

A 2013 law al­lows fac­ulty and staff to carry con­cealed hand­guns but leaves the de­ci­sion up to the col­lege or univer­sity. No school has opted to do so.

The train­ing pro­vi­sion faced op­po­si­tion from sup­port­ers of the cam­pus guns leg­is­la­tion who say it would ren- der the bill mean­ing­less by lim­it­ing the num­ber of peo­ple who could carry con­cealed firearms. Repub­li­can Sen. Trent Garner, who co-spon­sored the bill, said he’ll pro­pose an amend­ment to al­low any­one to carry on cam­pus, as long as they have a li­cense and have un­der­gone the re­quired train­ing.

“If they want to put that re­quire­ment on there, with 16 hours of in­tense, out-of-pocket ex­penses, we have to let every Arkansan who wants to go on a col­lege cam­pus be able to par­tic­i­pate in that,” Garner told re­porters.

Ar­kan­sas law al­lows some­one to ap­ply for a con­cealed carry li­cense if they’re at least 21 years old. Some­one who’s at least 18 can ap­ply if they’re an ac­tive duty mem­ber of the armed forces or have re­ceived an honor­able dis­charge.

If the leg­is­la­tion be­comes law, Ar­kan­sas will join a hand­ful of states that re­quire schools to al­low con­cealed hand­guns. Two states, Col­orado and Utah, force col­leges to al­low all per­mit hold­ers to carry on cam­pus while seven other states re­quire schools to al­low con­cealed guns in cer­tain cir­cum­stances, ac­cord­ing to Every­town for Gun Safety, a gun con­trol ad­vo­cacy group.

The cam­pus guns mea­sure faces op­po­si­tion from higher ed­u­ca­tion offi- cials, in­clud­ing the heads of the state’s largest univer­sity sys­tems, who say the de­ci­sion on con­cealed guns should re­main with the schools. They’ve also com­plained about the lack of ex­emp­tions for lab­o­ra­to­ries or men­tal health fa­cil­i­ties on cam­pus.

The pro­posal has drawn a luke­warm re­sponse from Repub­li­can Gov. Asa Hutchin­son, who headed a Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion task force on school se­cu­rity after the New­town, Con­necti­cut school shoot­ing. Hutchin­son has said he’s in­clined to leave the de­ci­sion up to the schools, but has stopped short of say­ing he op­poses the mea­sure.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.