The Arkansas Legislative Council last week approved the state’s contentious new enhanced concealed carry program, which mandates increased training to carry in more places.
The body, which works through problems with legislation when lawmakers are not in session, moved forward with Act 562 which passed earlier in the year prompting 30-pages of proposed rules for the new program drafted by the Arkansas State Police in October.
“I am pleased the ASP rules for implementing Act 562 were reviewed and approved by the ALC today,” said the law’s sponsor, state Rep. Charlie Collins. “The steady, thoughtful and successful implementation of the law continues in timely fashion.”
Collins argues the expanded carry option, open to the state’s 225,000 Concealed Handgun License holders, will “deter crazy killers from murdering our loved ones on AR college campuses.”
Under the aegis of the program, applicants for an Arkansas CHL could opt for an enhancement granted after 8-hours of additional training including a graded live-fire course which would enable them to carry their handgun on the campus of a public university, college, or community college in the state as well as some other areas currently off-limits to CHL holders. Neighboring Mississippi, a constitutional carry state, has a similar optional enhanced carry endorsement which, after training from a certified instructor, drops the types of gun free zones where a licensed CCW holder is excluded from bringing a gun.
However, not all of Arkansas’ 1,100 permit instructors are in support of the initiative as it requires them to teach the new course to all applicants, and some lawmakers feel the move is a blow to gun rights in the state.
“If we continue down this road, there’s going to be a perpetual infringement upon our God-given rights,” said state Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, who voted against approving the rules.
University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz currently points out that, while Act 562 will allow campus carry, it only applies to those with the enhancement, only covers concealed carry, and that other state laws prohibit the storage of guns in university facilities including residence halls. However, they may be stored in locked unattended vehicles on campus.
Legislators hope to tweak the law next year to allow for dorm room storage and to make the teaching of the enhanced carry training optional.