LITTLE ROCK — The National Rifle Association said Thursday it opposes a bill to allow some people to carry guns on college campuses in Arkansas because of a training requirement that was added to the bill but said it would support the measure with certain changes.
Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, on Thursday filed an NRA-backed proposed amendment to House Bill 1249 by Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville. Under the amendment, anyone with a concealed-carry permit could carry a concealed handgun at a public college or university with no additional training requirement beyond what is currently required to obtain a permit.
Collins sponsored a 2103 law that allows college faculty and staff to carry guns if they have concealed-carry permits, with a provision allowing the schools to opt out. Every school has opted out since the law was passed, so Collins is proposing with HB 1249 to remove the opt-out provision.
After the bill cleared the House, the Senate amended it to add an active-shooter training requirement for college faculty and staff, but the Senate Judiciary Committee later replaced that amendment with one that would allow any person age 25 or older who has a concealed-carry permit to receive up to 16 hours of additional training and qualify for an endorsement allowing him or her to carry a handgun on a college campus. The person would not have to be employed by the school.
Anthony Roulette, state liaison for the NRA, said Thursday that organization has dropped its support for HB 1249 because it believes to many restrictions have been added to the bill. He said the NRA would support the bill if the amendment sponsored by Collins-Smith were adopted.
“Her amendment nails exactly what we’re looking for for a true campus carry bill, which is removing restrictions on law-abiding permit holders,” he said.
Collins-Smith moved on the Senate floor Thursday to refer the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee so it could be amended, but the motion failed when it received only six votes in support. The Senate did not vote on the bill Thursday.