LITTLE ROCK A bill shielding from the public the identities of 130,000 Arkansas residents permitted to carry concealed handguns was signed into law Friday by Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr while Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe was out of state.
The move, which immediately makes the list exempt from Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act, comes a day after Beebe said he would allow the measure to go into law without his signature on Monday despite his opposition. Beebe was in Washington on Friday for the National Governors Association’s winter meeting.
“Having been an outspoken advocate for Second Amendment rights, I felt passionately that there should be no delays in signing this bill into law,” Darr said in a statement issued by his office.
A spokesman for Beebe did not immediately return a call Friday.
Arkansas law had already exempted all but the names and ZIP codes of concealed carry permit holders from release under a compromise struck between lawmakers and media organizations in 2009. Beebe said he was opposed to the proposal because it went against that compromise, but decided against vetoing it because of the overwhelming support it had in both chambers.
Overriding a veto takes a simple majority in Arkansas, and Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature. Governors in the past have allowed measures to go into law without their signature as a way to show their objection without vetoing bills.
Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, proposed making the entire list secret in response to a New York newspaper’s decision to publish the names and addresses of concealed carry permit holders following December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and 6 adults.