By CS Staff · March 16, 2017
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson plans to sign a bill into law allowing the concealed carry of guns on college campuses.
The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the legislature March 15 after a series of debates and amendments that widened its scope, reports thv11.com.
House Bill 1249 will allow people with concealed carry permits who have completed a specific training course to carry firearms on public college campuses, at sporting events, in courthouses, bars and other locations.
Public colleges uniformly opposed the bill while the National Rifle Association changed its stance on the proposal several times before ultimately supporting the final product.
Representative Charlie Collins first introduced the bill in January allowing guns on public campuses. It passed the House in a week, but the Senate added several amendments, including a requirement that permit holders must take a training course of up to eight hours to be qualified. The State Police will create that course.
The Senate also expanded the bill’s reach from college campuses to dozens of other locations. With the added locations, the NRA threw its support back into the bill, which is believed to have had an impact on Gov. Hutchinson’s decision.
Hutchinson characterized the amendments as “improvements” and thanked the legislature for collaborating on the bill.
Arkansas law currently allows colleges to craft their own gun policies, but none permit guns on campus.
The Arkansas Department of Higher Education said 43 percent of the student body at the University of Arkansas Little Rock would qualify to carry guns if they got their permit and completed the training.
Hutchinson did not say when he will sign the bill into law.