Concealed-carry transfer bill fails to pass vote in House

Legislation that would require people who hold out-of-state concealed carry licenses to transfer those licenses within 30 days of becoming an Arkansas resident failed in the Arkansas House of Representatives on Monday.

House Bill 1884, by Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, was voted down 39-20, with many conservative members of the House abstaining. Hammer said he wouldn't take the vote personally but that he would feel safer knowing the person sitting next to him had to go through the same concealed handgun training he had.

"Not every state has the same standards that you and I have whenever it is that you go and get your concealed weapon permit," he said. "For instance, in some states you can go get your concealed weapon permit online without ever actually having to be involved with a firing range and prove whether or not you can handle a pistol or a weapon of choice."

Hammer said Arkansas' process for obtaining a concealed weapon permit -- which includes a training course, safety component, background checks and a firing range testing requirement -- is exemplary.

"Now, I don't know about you, but if I'm going to be sitting next to someone at a restaurant, I want to know that they've at least been trained or held accountable to the same level of standards that we have as Arkansans," he said.

The Arkansas General Assembly has seen a bevy of concealed weapon bills this session, including legislation from Hammer to allow people between 18 and 21 years old who have served in the military and have been honorably discharged to obtain a concealed weapon permit.

Legislation that will require public colleges and universities to allow professors and other staff to carry concealed weapons on campus passed earlier this month.

Two bills cleared the House last week that would allow for elected county officials to carry concealed weapons in courthouses if that is their primary place of business and would allow people to carry concealed weapons in publicly maintained parking lots including the lots surrounding the State Capitol. HB1626 and HB1505 are on the Senate floor and on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendars, respectively.

Hammer's HB1884 raised concerns Monday that it could be restricting Second Amendment rights or could cause people to unknowingly violate the law.

"What happens if they move to Arkansas and they don't know about this law and they end up 60 days out?" asked Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn.

Hammer said he asked the Arkansas State Police, which asked for the legislation, the same question. He said the clock would start running once someone was found to have an Arkansas identification card or driver's license but an out-of-state concealed weapon permit.

He said once people became Arkansas residents, they would be given a courtesy of 30 days to change over their concealed carry licenses. The people would pay a $35 fee and fill out the Arkansas application for a permanent concealed weapon permit.

Hammer said the people would be issued temporary concealed weapon permits during the application process.

Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, said Hammer's explanation was not codified in the legislation.

"That's not what the bill says. What the law says is that you are guilty if they give you 30 days and you don't apply for a concealed carry permit," he said. "I think that we ought to leave it to the citizens of Arkansas to practice and to be with their Second Amendment rights, and I would hate to do anything that would further restrict them, which this bill does."

Metro on 03/24/2015

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