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story.lead_photo.caption Fighter jets fly over Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium prior to a game between Arkansas and Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Fayetteville. - Photo by Ben Goff

5:10 P.M. UPDATE:

Arkansas' governor says he supports efforts to exempt college sporting events and the state's medical school from a new law greatly expanding where concealed handguns are allowed.

The Republican governor said in a statement Thursday that he supports the changes approved by the Senate to the concealed handguns law he signed into law a day earlier. The new law allows people with a concealed handgun to carry at colleges, some bars, government buildings and even the state Capitol if they undergo up to eight hours of active shooter training.

The proposed changes have been sent to the House for a vote.

Hutchinson cited the "unique" nature of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as a teaching hospital and said the sporting events exemption addresses a concern from many in the state.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers voted Thursday to exempt college sporting events from a new state law that greatly expands where concealed handguns are allowed, moving quickly to address concerns about the sweeping gun rights measure leading to armed spectators at stadiums and arenas.

The Arkansas Senate voted 22-10 to add the exemption to a new state law that Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Wednesday allowing concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and even the state Capitol. It allows people with concealed handgun licenses to carry in the locations if they complete eight hours of active-shooter training.

The change, which now heads to the House, also would exempt the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the state hospital from the gun rights expansion.

The law as-is would let guns into Razorback Stadium while umbrellas remain banned. The lawmaker who called for the sports exemption noted that there's already police and security on hand for stadium and arena events.

"It's one of those areas where I don't think the value offsets the risk," Republican Sen. Jim Hendren, the Senate majority leader, said before the vote. "There's alcohol, there's people getting excited, and so probably I think most people agree that maybe this is one of those areas we ought to think about before we expand the privileges."

The law takes effect Sept. 1, but Arkansas residents likely won't be allowed to carry concealed weapons into the expanded locations until early next year. The law gives Arkansas State Police until January to design the additional training that will be required. More than 220,000 people have concealed handgun licenses in Arkansas.

The legislation originally was intended to only allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns at college campuses, but the bill expanded as it hit roadblocks in the Legislature.

The lawmaker behind the expanded concealed gun law said the exemptions approved by the Senate would undermine that measure.

"It will kill the campus carry bill we just passed," Republican Sen. Trent Garner said.

The National Rifle Association, which backed the expanded gun rights law, said it opposed the efforts to add new exemptions.

"We support the original legislation as signed into law," NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said in an email. "People should have the constitutional right to self-defense wherever they are legally allowed to be."

Senate President Jonathan Dismang said lawmakers would tweak the bill approved Thursday to ensure that the UAMS exemption wouldn't exempt any other college campuses with medical facilities or clinics from the concealed guns law.

Arkansas law currently allows faculty and staff at colleges and universities to carry concealed handguns on campus if the schools allow it. None have opted to do so since that law was enacted in 2013.

A Democratic lawmaker whose district includes the University of Arkansas said the changes help address some concerns, but called the expanded gun rights law "awful" and the move to swiftly amend it shows the problems it'll pose around the state.

"The whole thing just makes us look careless and short sighted," Rep. Greg Leding said.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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Archived Comments

  • troutman
    March 23, 2017 at 12:47 p.m.

    Oh No! What if an Arkansas educated and trained gun-toter wanted to shoot a referee? Wouldn't that be his right?

    March 23, 2017 at 1 p.m.

    Guns in Stadiums, Pool Halls and Beer Joints is one of the better Laws this Legislature has approved and passed, Wonderful People in our Legislature, Don't you think????

  • BluffCityHog
    March 23, 2017 at 1:37 p.m.

    So, no guns at Razorback Stadium, but after the game a young buck can stop by and strap on his piece on his way to the post-game keg party at the frat house. Makes a lot of sense.

  • Queen1976
    March 23, 2017 at 2:22 p.m.

    So you can't carry at a college game, but you can in a bar? Doesn't make any sense. I'm a huge advocate of CCL's, however don't think it's wise to allow guns in bars. Guns & alcohol just don't mix.

  • doublec
    March 23, 2017 at 2:28 p.m.

    It was a lapse in judgment to have written the proposal then even worse to have signed it into law. Did no one think that children could be in the line of fire? With 70K people around there is no clean shot. Also, other schools may want to say, they will not play in AR b/c the other schools may not want to put there fans in a bad situation. Also, NCAA has rules that would eliminate AR hosting any NCAA event.

  • doneturner
    March 23, 2017 at 2:37 p.m.

    You're coveniently missing a piece here...Legally Carrying under carry law. The question was do you think it is ok for someone to carry a gun at sporting events...with that wide open no. Is it ok for a legal permit carrying citizen to carry a gun into a sporting event...OH YEAH!!!

  • MadyJ
    March 23, 2017 at 2:41 p.m.

    Smart move lawmakers. Who cares if the egghead students and professors get shot-- just so we protect our jocks. This amended gun packing law ensures out-of-state teams will keep coming here to play the Razorbacks--and still dare to beat the hell out of 'um!

  • Napigleon1
    March 23, 2017 at 3:07 p.m.

    Who were the 10 idiots who WANT guns at sporting events?

  • mrcharles
    March 23, 2017 at 4:40 p.m.

    That is the problem with deer hunting, a young buck can have a gun and shoot back at you, or so says bluff city.

    I'm holding out for operating rooms and Supreme court courtrooms. I know for sure that at UAMS they operate on criminal types, who wants to be a nurse & some guy wakes up and wants to take you out?

    Seriously this is not very rational .

  • Popsmith
    March 23, 2017 at 4:49 p.m.

    Sure am glad our law makers are smarter than the people who make comments here.