LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Changes to Arkansas' proposed "campus carry bill" are pushing the legislation one step closer to being passed.
The bill continues its march through the Arkansas legislature despite the fact that many across the state are still vehemently opposed to it. The state's colleges and universities, campus police, and countless parents have come out against campus carry in Arkansas.
But still, thanks to some amendments, the chances of it getting passed are getting larger.
"What we find whenever you want to make significant change in this world, is that a lot of people have a point of view,” said Representative Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville), the bill’s sponsor.
One of those points of view, when it comes to campus carry, is from University of Arkansas Chancellor, Joseph Steinmetz, who in January said, "We have serious concerns about increasing the number of armed individuals posing a significant threat."
For a while, even the NRA didn't support HB1249, until a recent amendment was added to include more training.
"It's training that's going to be focused on something that the basic CCL Course is not. It's going to be more about how to operate, how to behave in a situation where maybe guns are being drawn,” Collins said.
To get some of the bills critics on board, the 4th and most recent amendment, the "Garner, Hendren, Hutchinson Collins Amendment" expands the term campus.
"Some of the areas could be state buildings, including even the Capitol in some situation,” explained Collins.
"I think we have a secure environment as it exists," argued Austin Bailey with Moms Demand Action. "This seems to be just throwing the safety of our college students out the window for the sake of appeasing the gun lobby and adding more guns to our college campuses."
Campuses like UA Little Rock where, right now, there are around 11,000 students and 25 campus police officers. That's a ratio of 440 students per officer.
According to Arkansas Department of Higher Education, if this bill passes, 5,000 UA Little Rock Students or 43 percent of the student body will qualify to carry on campus. If they all applied for a concealed carry license, that would mean 200 armed students per officer. At Pulaski Tech, 48 percent of its students would qualify, and at UAMS, that number is 56 percent.
"We've lost focus student safety, which is what, I think, should be at the core of this bill, and it’s gotten quite political,” Bailey said finally.
Next, the bill will head back to Senate Judiciary Committee. Collins said after those four amendments have been made, he's feeling confident about a good vote.
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