Expanded campus carry bill passes, awaits Governor's signature

Changes made to campus carry bill

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Arkansas Legislature has passed House Bill 1249, which would permit concealed weapons on state universities and colleges. 

Many state institutions, campus police, and parents have come out against the proposed law.

With its additional amendments, the bill would also allow concealed carry license holders to carry not only on a college campus, but would include some bars and state buildings, such as the Capitol.

"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 state representative Charlie Collins, the bill’s sponsor.

The Republican from Fayetteville confirmed the intention of the additional amendments is to expand locations where concealed weapons can be carried.

"Some of the areas could be state buildings, including even the Capitol in some situation,” explained Collins.

The University of Arkansas Chancellor, Joseph Steinmetz, said in January that the university has major concerns regarding HB 1249.

"We have serious concerns about increasing the number of armed individuals posing a significant threat," said Steinmetz.

According to Arkansas Department of Higher Education, if this bill does become law, 5,000 University of Arkansas-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.

The National Rifle Association applauded the passage in a released statement:

The National Rifle Association applauds the passage of HB 1249, a personal protection bill to strengthen Arkansas’s current carry system. With Governor Hutchinson’s signature, law-abiding citizens with enhanced permits will be allowed to defend themselves if attacked by vicious criminals while on campus, out to dinner, or visiting state buildings. 

The bill now heads to Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has public expressed his support for earlier versions of the bill.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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