LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’ public colleges and universities could allow staff to carry a concealed handgun on campus under legislation that a House panel endorsed Tuesday.

The House Education Committee unanimously approved House Bill 1243 by Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville.

"In my view we have a significant problem in America, and the problem I’m talking about the number of crazies and killers that select college campuses to kill our loved ones," Collins said in presenting his bill to the committee.

The panel approved an amendment to the measure which allows the board of trustees of public colleges and universities to decided in an annual vote whether to allow guns on campus. It also would allow the board to restrict concealed handguns to certain parts of campus.

Speaking against the measure was Greyson Teague, a senior at Hot Springs High School, who said he worried that when he attends college he might feel intimidated by an instructor when he learns he has a concealed weapon.

Chris Campolo, a philosophy professor at Hendrix College in Conway, spoke for the bill, saying that a professor at the University of Utah, where concealed weapons are allowed on campus, told him that having guns on campus was not a concern.

"This is not something that we need to be afraid of," he said.

The bill goes to the House.

Gov. Mike Beebe was noncommittal about the proposal Monday, saying he was interested in hearing from higher education officials.