LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas lawmakers said Monday they’re negotiating more changes to a bill allowing concealed handguns on college campuses after it faced resistance from the National Rifle Association over its age and training restrictions.
The Senate voted to send the bill back to the Judiciary Committee for possible amendments. The measure currently allows anyone 25 or older with a concealed handgun license to carry on campus if they undergo up to 16 hours of active shooter training. An NRA-backed amendment that would expand the bill to allow anyone on campus with a license to carry and remove the training requirement has drawn the opposition of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
A co-sponsor of the bill said he thinks the limits currently in the legislation are too restrictive and wants to find a compromise.
“I think there’s a happy medium somewhere in between those two that will be able to allow people to exercise their Second Amendment rights while making sure we also have some kind of protections on there,” Republican Sen. Trent Garner told reporters.
The NRA dropped its support of the bill after the age and training requirements were added. The initial version of the measure required colleges and universities to allow faculty and staff to carry on campus. Current law leaves the decision on whether to allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns up to colleges and universities, but none have opted to do since the law was enacted in 2013.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to satisfy all Second Amendment supporters when we review this bill and come out with a bill that’s pleasing to all who believe in our Second Amendment rights,” said Republican Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, who proposed the amendment dropping the age and training requirements.
The requirements were added last week through a deal between Hutchinson and lawmakers. A spokesman said Hutchinson is open to discuss changes to the legislation, but said the training is an important part of the legislation for the governor.
The bill has faced opposition from higher education leaders, who said the decision on whether to allow guns should remain with the schools.
Garner, meanwhile, said he’s also working on legislation that would eliminate the need for a license to carry a concealed handgun in the state.