LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – A bill set to go before the house judiciary committee would eliminate most gun-free zones in Arkansas if passed.
Rep. Richard Womack, R-Arkadelphia, filed House Bill 1694. Rep. Womack assigned Tim Loggains, part of the Patriots of Act 746, to help with the technical aspects of the bill.
"What this law will allow is good citizens just wanting to do what the constitution says,” Loggains said.
Right now, there are five laws that cover where Arkansans can and cannot carry a gun. House Bill 1694 addresses three of those laws: 5-73-119, 5-73-122 and 5-73-127.
"It's actually removing the loopholes,” he Loggains said. “It decriminalizes carrying a weapon in most places in Arkansas with some exceptions that made sense.”
Loggains said this bill allows people to carry in most publicly owned or leased buildings and public land, including the Arkansas State Capitol and K-12 schools, public colleges and universities – you currently can only conceal carry on these campuses with an enhanced license.
"And right now the way it's written, you don't have a clue who's on school property with a weapon and who isn't,” Loggains said.
Loggains said this bill creates transparency when carrying on school grounds. If someone has a weapon, they would be required to report to the school resource officer or administration they are carrying. It would also have to remain concealed and open carry is prohibited. No one under 21 would be allowed to carry on school property at all.
“It’s really redefining and helping shape the law to where it is more manageable. Most people want to follow the law, and you’ve got people violating this law every day that don’t know it,” Loggains said.
Kymara Seals is the policy director at Citizens First Congress. Her organization is working to defeat the bill because they believe allowing to carry guns in more places is dangerous and a threat to public safety.
"We don't need guns in our public schools, we don't need teachers, let alone the public to go in and out of schools,” she said. "We have enough problems as it is in Arkansas, and this is one we don't need,” Seals said.
But Loggains said this bill is only helping to increase public safety.
"The idea behind a gun-free zone is you're telling everyone you can't carry a gun. The only people that follow that law are the people that want to,” he said “So, you have people that become victims because they're trying to follow the law by evil people committing evil deeds.”
There are exceptions to House Bill 1694. Gun-free zones would still remain in places where it is prohibited by federal law: the UAMS campus, the Department of Community Correction, county jails, courtrooms, state hospital, collegiate sporting events and the justice building.
The proposed changes do not apply to a private property landowner, who can choose whether to allow or prohibit firearms.
The bill goes before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday at 10 a.m.