A group opposed to guns on college campuses is gaining traction in the Natural State.
Arkansans Against Guns on Campus is a group formed in opposition to House Bill 1243.
The bill would let colleges and universities in Arkansas decide whether they will allow for trained and licensed staff and faculty to conceal and carry on campus.
Many state lawmakers are in support of the bill, which was authored by Rep. Charlie Collins (R) of Fayetteville.
Governor Mike Beebe has said he will likely sign the bill, if passed, now that it contains an opt-out provision for all colleges.
The following is a press release sent from Arkansans Against Guns on Campus to KNWA on Tuesday, February 19.
Under the banner "Arkansans Against Guns on Campus," Arkansas residents are opposed to efforts by Rep. Charlie Collins (R-84) to pass a HB1243, a bill "To Allow Trained and Licensed Staff and Faculty To Carry A Concealed Handgun On A University, College, Or Community College Campus Under Certain Circumstance." The bill would allow any campus member of the faculty or staff of that school to carry a concealed weapon. With supporters at universities across the state, Arkansans Against Guns on Campus are rallying for support against allowing concealed carry for teachers and staff.
They argue that:
1.) Gun violence is not a looming threat on Arkansas campuses. Only three people have been killed in 10 years in the state. Statistically, residents are safer on a college campus (in large part because of the prohibition of firearms) than anywhere in the rest of the state.
2.) If public safety is a priority, allowing permit holders would never be a first step in securing a campus. State funding for more police would be the best practice moving forward since they have training in crowd control, lethal force, and emergency scenarios.
3.) The bill ignores federal laws that sanction whole swaths of campus as gun-free zones. When the federal and state law conflict, the permit holder is left vulnerable to liability.
4.) The bill is poorly written and provides no mechanism for university systems to opt out.
5.) There is no measurable positive impact of concealed carry on actual security across college campuses.
Students at the U of A weighed in on the Collins bill last night:
"This bill makes a university campus into a confusing patchwork of places that are off-limits to concealed carriers. Whereas it will be legal to have a concealed weapon in a classroom, it will still be illegal to have one in campus churches, transit facilities and police stations, as well as within 1000 feet of any K-12 facility. These 'carve-outs' will make it more difficult for law enforcement to do their job, and ultimately will leave universities vulnerable to lawsuits." - Alex Marino (Student and ASG Senator at U of A, Fayetteville)
"If this bill was to become law, I would push that students be notified which of the professors on campus was concealed carry licensed and require that for every class taught by an armed teacher there would be the same class taught by a non-concealed carry professor. If these simple requests could not be met, I would imagine that many others would be with me in moving to a different area with a more logical program to safeguard their citizenry." - Ezra Smith (Student at U of A, Fayetteville)
"Campuses are a place for the free exchange of ideas, not the place for free possession of guns. Allowing guns on college campuses is a horrid solution to a problem that does not exist." - Aaron Gibson (Student at U of A, Fayetteville)
"After reviewing the legislation proposed by Representative Collins, I have found fundamental flaws in the writing of the bill. If I were not opposed to the idea of the bill in general, I would find myself opposed to it for that reason." - Autumn Lewis (Student and ASG Senator at U of A, Fayetteville)