College gun bill passes, university prepares

Story by Serene Garcia, Student Reporter

House Bill 1249 was first introduced by Representative Charlie Collins on Jan. 23. This bill is similar to a bill that Collins sponsored in 2013. The 2013 bill left it up to the respective governing boards of each public college and university to decide on policy concerning concealed handguns on campus. 

All colleges and universities in Arkansas decided against permitting them. House Bill 1249, now Act 562, no longer leaves the decision up to the governing boards. Also, the opportunity of carrying a handgun is no longer limited to staff. 

Anyone with a concealed handgun license can carry a gun per this new law. 

“They are just asking for school shootings to happen,” said Mathew Lim, senior athletic training major. Those who choose to carry a gun on campus and are already licensed must obtain eight hours of further training. This new law also limits licensees from taking a weapon into a disciplinary hearing that is anything shorter than nine hours. 

The specifics of the extra eight hours of training have not yet been released but the law specifies that 120 days after the act’s effective day, Sept. 1, the department of Arkansas state police will publicize the rules or criteria that the training program should follow. 

In a news conference, representative Charlie Collins, the bill’s sponsor, stated that this act was created with the intent of improving safety. 

Some students on campus still feel uneasy about the new law and the freedom that it provides. “If everybody else is carrying a weapon, I’m going to have to too. I still don’t feel qualified,” said Lim. Previously all university and colleges in Arkansas had opted out of allowing concealed handguns on campus, but now it is up to the students to decide for themselves individually. “Authority has the privilege of carrying weapons. 

You can’t trust the person right next to you to be emotionally stable. If you have an emotional break down, those hours of training will do nothing for you,” said Nohemi Murguia, sophomore innovative media major. 

The law specifies that storing a gun in a dormitory or a residence hall is prohibited. 

Students like Mark Hodgson feel that the restrictions are not strong enough. “I do believe in this law, but they need more training and there should be some background check as far back as their middle school years to see what kind of kids they were,” said Hodgson, senior human services major. 

This law still prohibits gun carrying on kindergarten through 12th grade campuses. 

In Act 562, Legislation has left it up to the discretion of certain establishments that could be places of exceptional risk. 

A weapon can be brought into bars, restaurants serving light wine and bear, and churches. These three places can choose not to allow guns, but they must put signs up prohibiting the carrying of a concealed weapon.