LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) —Wednesday, the State of Arkansas will begin testing enhanced carry instructors, so they can begin training Arkansans for the permit.
That testing will happen, despite many state leaders saying "hiccups" in the law need to be fixed first.
It was not a partisan issue.
Leaders on both sides of the aisle have taken issue with certain pieces of Arkansas' new gun law, including the stipulation that concealed carry instructors must also teach the enhanced version.
Despite that opposition, the show will go on.
"Larry, Curly and Moe could have run a better bill than these guys." That was State Senator, Bryan King back in December, when the Arkansas Legislative Council decided to push the Enhanced Carry Law forward, despite opposition to certain parts of the law.
The issue is over one word: shall. That word, included in the law, means every concealed carry instructor in Arkansas must also teach enhanced carry classes.
"There were Republicans and Democrats that did not want to sign off on them until we had them in better shape,” State Representative, Greg Leding said Tuesday, Jan. 23.
The first opportunity to fix the language will come in February, when the Legislature opens for Fiscal Session.
Instead of waiting until after the session, Arkansas State Police will begin testing instructors on Wednesday.
"I don't think anybody needs to be offering this training or taking this training until we get the law clear,” Leding said of his position.
Alternatively, Senator Trent Garner, one of the Bill's sponsors, told me he's glad to see the law moving forward in a responsible way.
"It is time for citizens to be able to protect themselves in so-called "gun-free" zones," Garner said.
Nathan House, the owner at Arkansas Armory, has been one of the most outspoken critics of parts of this law. He will also be one of the first instructors in Arkansas to take the test on Wednesday.
I caught up with House Tuesday as he and his employees studied for the test.
It was created by ASP and is the first of its kind; meaning there are no study guides, no other states to look at for guidance.
"Taking a test is always nerve-wrecking,” House said. “You don't know what's going to be on it. You're the first one right out of the gate to take it. We study everything. Do our best. And hope that we pass, because there's a lot on the line for us."
I asked House if he thought the cart was being put before the horse. Should the testing and training be halted until the law is addressed?
"The rules we have work as best as they can within the law,” he said. “I think it is really just up to the legislature to go back, listen to the concerns of the instructors, to the licensees that are actually carrying, the practical problems that they run into and then change it."
Whether or not the enhanced carry law will be addressed during the fiscal session is still anyone's guess. During that ALC meeting in December, the law was pushed along with the understanding it would be addressed in February, but others have said they aren't so sure. Opening this law up for interpretation could open a can of worms, in which other laws passed last session could also be up for interpretation.
House says if he passes tomorrow, Jan. 23. He will plan to start offering enhanced permit training in the next couple of weeks.
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