LITTLE ROCK — A bill to require college campuses in Arkansas to allow staff and faculty members who hold concealed-carry permits to carry concealed handguns on campus advanced out of the House Education Committee on Thursday.

LITTLE ROCK — A bill to require college campuses in Arkansas to allow staff and faculty members who hold concealed-carry permits to carry concealed handguns on campus advanced out of the House Education Committee on Thursday.


The panel rejected the bill in a vote earlier this month, but on Thursday it endorsed the measure after approving an amendment to allow public colleges and universities to require active shooter training for anyone allowed to carry weapons on campus.


House Bill 1077 by Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, would amend a 2013 law that allows colleges and universities in Arkansas to opt out of allowing concealed weapons on campus by removing the opt-out provision for state-run institutions. Private institutions could still opt out.


Since that measure — also sponsored by Collins — took affect, all of the public and private higher education institutions in the state have chosen to opt out of the law.


The amendment, offered by Reps. Scott Baltz, D-Pocahontas, Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, and James Ratliff, D-Imboden, would permit public colleges and universities to require licensees to complete an active shooter or related training program to be administered either by campus police or another law enforcement agency.


"If a person decides to carry a weapon on an Arkansas campus, they must have an Arkansas concealed-carry permit," Baltz told the committee. "They have to attend an active shooter course, they have to pass that course, and they must let the law enforcement of that campus or of that jurisdiction know they are in there with a gun."


Baltz also said colleges could prohibit concealed weapons around a campus daycare facility under the amendment.


Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, took issue with Baltz’s description of the amendment, saying the actual wording made it appear that neither the training or daycare prohibition was actually a requirement, but only an option.


"I’m asking why that is and if that can be changed so that it’s understood that we shall require a licensee to complete the active shooter course, not may require," Sabin said.


Baltz said colleges currently have a choice only to opt in or opt out of allowing concealed handguns on campus. He said Collins’ bill, with the amendment, would take away the ability to opt out but would give the institutions the ability to require additional training, which they currently do not have.


The ability to ban concealed weapons around a campus daycare facility also does not exist under current law, Baltz said.


The committee adopted the amendment and advanced HB 1077 in voice votes, with several "no" votes heard on each.


Collins was asked after the meeting why he did not include students in his his bill.


"One of the first things I did to reduce the perceived risk in the eyes of people who really don’t think this is a good idea in the first place was to keep weapons out of the hands of students," he said. "Even though I personally think if the state police see fit to issue a person a concealed carry permit, then he or she is qualified to be a permit holder on an Arkansas campus or any other place."


House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, told reporters Thursday he supports HB 1077 and noted that he voted for it when it was first presented to the House Education Committee.


Asked about the level of support in the House for the bill, Gillam said, "I’ve heard generally positive things among the members, but nothing specific as far as vote counts."


Rex Nelson, president of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities, was asked Thursday if he expects any changes this year at non-state-run institutions, which could continue to opt out of the concealed-carry law even if HB 1077 is enacted.


"I am aware of none of our 11 institutions that have any plans to allow concealed weapons. All will continue to opt out," he said.


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John Lyon contributed to this report.