The Senate on Thursday voted 22-10 to add the exemption to the measure signed into law a day earlier by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson chaired a National Rifle Association task force that called for trained, armed staff at schools after the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The law goes into effect Sep. This raised the possibility that fans would be able to bring guns into college football and basketball games at the University of Arkansas. Under HB.1249/Act 562 concealed weapons are still forbidden in courtrooms, K-12 public schools, public pre-K programs, prisons and dorm rooms, even with the enhanced permit.
Bill Smith, a spokesman for Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, said, 'While we have expressed concerns regarding the bill, we recognize the General Assembly has spoken, and we will begin preparations to comply with the law'.
Lt. Tony Saylors, an officer at BRTC, said while he supports the bill's approach in requiring more training, he said he believes the eight hours required is not enough education for someone with a concealed carry permit on a college campus.
There are over 220,000 people in Arkansas now. A spokesperson for the school said the school best felt a decision regarding weapons was best left to the board of trustees and pointed to the trustees' decisions to keep guns off campus.
"A bad guy could get a gun into Razorback Stadium now", Hutchinson said.
"Sometimes people have a little bit to drink before they go to the game", he said.
The law does prohibit concealed handguns from disciplinary hearings on campus grounds. This legislation will make everyday life in Arkansas more risky.
Concealed guns will be allowed at bars, places of worship and other private establishments unless prohibitions are posted at the facilities. The law also does not cover federal government buildings.
The lawmaker behind the expanded concealed gun law said the exemptions approved by the Senate would undermine that measure.
"Only criminals can find safety in gun-free zones", said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.