Arkansas lawmakers voted earlier this week to pass a new state law expanding where concealed carry in Arkansas is allowed. A day later, the state Senate made one major tweak.
The Associated Press reports that, according to the new law, armed spectators would have been allowed into sporting events. This prompted Arkansas lawmakers to act immediately to amend the bill, quickly excluding stadiums and arenas from the concealed-carry expansion. The AP reports the Senate voted 22-10 to add the exemption. This came one day after Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a new law.
The (Current) Bill and the (Potential) Exemptions
Arkansas’ new law allows concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and the state Capitol. The law allows concealed carry only with a license and upon completing 8 hours of active-shooter training.
The presented change, along with stadiums — namely Arkansas’ Razorback Stadium — would also exempt the University of Arkansas for Medicine Sciences and the state hospital from the guns-right expansion, The AP reports. However, sports venues are the main target for change.
“It’s one of those areas where I don’t think the value offsets the risk,” Republican Sen. Jim Hendren, the Senate majority leader, said before the vote, according to The AP. “There’s alcohol, there’s people getting excited or so probably I think most people agree that maybe this is one of those areas we ought to think about before we expand these privileges.”
The new law takes effect September 1, but it’s likely the 220,000 Arkansas residents who have concealed handgun licenses won’t be allowed to carry concealed into the newly approved locations until next year. Arkansas State Police are given until January to design the additional training recommended for the change.
Though Gov. Hutchinson signed the original law, he has since clarified the intent of the law was for only faculty and staff on college campuses to carry concealed. However, the bill expanded as it hit roadblocks in the Legislature, The AP reports. Republican Sen. Trent Garner, who presented the bill for concealed-carry expansion, said any exemptions will “kill the campus carry bill we just passed.”
What do you think about Arkansas’ new law that expands concealed carry rights? Should certain buildings and venues be exempt? Or is the state government hindering the rights of its citizens? Comment below and let us know what you think.
Featured image: arkansasrazorbacks.com