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story.lead_photo.caption Sen. Trent Garner (right) speaks Thursday against a bill by Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang (left). Dismang’s bill would exclude the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the State Hospital from the public places where a new law will allow concealed-weapon licensees to carry their weapons after undergoing training. - Photo by Benjamin Krain

The ink is barely dry on a new law that will allow some concealed-carry permit holders to take their guns into many public places, and yet a bill that shot through the Senate on Thursday proposes to exempt some locations.

Under Senate Bill 724, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the State Hospital and locations hosting collegiate athletic events would be exempt from the new law.

The Senate voted 22-8 to approve SB724 by Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, on Thursday afternoon. Senators had already approved the bill earlier in the day, by a vote of 22-10, but then amended it and approved it a second time.

The bill now goes to the House.

On Wednesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law House Bill 1249 by Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, that will allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry firearms on college campuses and in many other public buildings, including the state Capitol. But to do so, permit holders must receive up to eight hours of what Hutchinson called "enhanced training."

HB1249 is now Act 562 and will become effective Sept. 1. The new law will require the Arkansas State Police to develop rules to design a firearm training program within 120 days of that effective date. More than 220,000 Arkansans have concealed-carry permits, and state police Director Bill Bryant said he's not sure how many of them will seek the extra training.

Hutchinson said Thursday that "the unique environment of a teaching hospital makes it reasonable to exempt UAMS, and the other exception for college sporting events addresses the concerns expressed by many Arkansans.

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"Because these appear to be reasonable exceptions, I will support these amendments," the Republican governor said in a written statement.

But the National Rifle Association "adamantly opposes Senate Bill 724," NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said.

"People have a constitutional right to self-defense wherever they are legally allowed to be," he said in a written statement.

Collins said Thursday afternoon that he wants to take a look at the language of SB724 and Act 562, and he wants to review other issues, such as whether the concealed-weapon permit holders with extra training would be banned from publicly owned day cares, nursing schools and "carrying while intoxicated."

He said he wants to get more information about SB724's ban on concealed weapons at intercollegiate athletic events.

"I appreciate what they are trying to do," Collins said. "But we have to think about this together and it requires us to be surefooted."

SB724 would exempt the weapons allowed under Act 562 from a place owned by, operated by, administered by or associated in a clinical setting with a public teaching hospital; a place that is hosting or being used for a collegiate athletic event; or the premises of the State Hospital in Little Rock.

A public teaching hospital includes the premises and buildings of UAMS under the legislation.

Dismang said in an interview that Act 562 "has the potential to impact recruiting" at UAMS "and obviously would have an impact with a physician/patient relationship.

"When I read the bill, I recognized that for the most part hospitals are exempted, but there was no exemption for UAMS," he said. The State Hospital is located near UAMS, he said.

UAMS supports SB724 because "there is a concern about concealed weapons being allowed in an environment of high stress, high traffic and high emotions in the various departments all of which are uninterruptedly connected to one another including internal access to the Federal Veterans Administration Hospital," said UAMS spokesman Pam Collar in a statement.

The bill would define a collegiate athletic event as "a sporting or athletic contest, event or practice of an individual or a team of individuals in which one or more individuals or a team of individuals sponsored by, funded by, represented by and associated with a public or private university, college or community college competes against itself or another individual or team of individuals sponsored by, funded by, represented by or associated with a public or private university, college or community college."

Senate Republican leader Jim Hendren of Sulphur Springs said that he proposed the amendment that would exempt sites of intercollegiate athletics because "anytime you pass a bill as comprehensive as [HB] 1249 was, there is going to be things that you didn't think" about.

"We gotta realize we completely rewrote that bill here in about two days in really intensive negotiations between NRA, and ourselves and the bill's sponsors," he said.

"The day after I had an agreement, I had four people come up to me and say can we change this, can we change this, can we change that," Hendren said. "I said, 'We can't now. But we may look at subsequent legislation to fix some of those things. So that's what you see happening."

Dismang said, "Multiple members have concerns about the sporting events and what that would do in regards to NCAA, SEC [Southeastern Conference], fundraising and a number of different issues, even outside of just safety alone.

Asked if the concern was that Arkansas' universities wouldn't been able to host events, "there is nothing in stone that says that would be a result, but I think that is a concern that's shared," he said.

SB724 also would ax the requirement for particular notices to be posted by a private university or private college that adopts a policy expressly disallowing the carrying of a concealed handgun in the buildings and grounds of the school.

"It would allow them to dictate their own posting guidelines for the campus. No. 1, they have the right to opt in or opt out," he said.

Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, said in an interview that he strongly disagrees with SB724 because the legislation would limit the ability of people to carry concealed weapons in certain places even if they had up to eight hours of training under Act 562.

During the Senate's debate on the initial version of SB724 before it was amended, Garner said, "It will kill the campus-carry bill we just passed" based on its wording.

"I think we gave them the perfect loophole for every college and every community college to get out," he said. "I know that Sen. Dismang did not mean to do it."

There have been "over a dozen killings" at athletic events during the past 10 years, he said.

In response, Dismang said that he intended his bill to exempt UAMS and not other public colleges and universities from Act 562, and, if any amendment is needed for the bill, he would fix it.

"I'm not going to grandstand on the bill," he told senators.

A Section on 03/24/2017

Print Headline: Senate OKs concealed-carry limits; Bans proposed for State Hospital, UAMS, collegiate sports

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  • RBear
    March 24, 2017 at 7:09 a.m.

    This goes to show that when you let a special interest group, namely the NRA, write a bill for you, you'll end up with a bad bill. This should have gone through a much more thorough process. Many of the "NRA provisions" are just plain dumb. They fit the NRA's agenda, but not the people's. Let's get the NRA out of the legislative process and back where they belong, appealing to legislators just like any other citizen.
    ...
    "Collins said Thursday afternoon that he wants to take a look at the language of SB724 and Act 562, and he wants to review other issues, such as whether the concealed-weapon permit holders with extra training would be banned from publicly owned day cares, nursing schools and 'carrying while intoxicated.'" Really Collins? You were so bent to get this passed you didn't even think of things like this? What? Did the NRA not cue you in on the issues? Of course not. The NRA looks at guns like a crack dealer looks at crack.

  • DontGoThere
    March 24, 2017 at 9:16 a.m.

    The way that crime has gotten so out of control in Little Rock, this is the reason for more laxed CCL's. The People of this city are now charged with protecting ourselves, since the NAACP & BLM have made it impossible for law enforcement to shoot these thugs. RBear - I think the same way of NAACP & BLM that you think of the NRA! They are like crack dealers look at crack! They care NOTHING about black on black crime - only sticking it to the white people!

  • hurricane46
    March 24, 2017 at 10:11 a.m.

    " It will kill the campus-carry bill we just passed" funny use of the word "kill", maybe less students and faculty will be killed, on-campus, just a thought.

  • mrcharles
    March 24, 2017 at 10:27 a.m.

    dontgothere, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    That is how the naacp survives, they sell force shields which make it impossible to shoot thugs [ I assume, that dont refers to black thugs] , contrary to what you see every day happening.

    I have read the ancient books, several translations and see no where are certain places exempt from divine guidance and instruction of the NRA. With their knowledge straight from "THE" Deity, they for the sake of our souls tell us the one true way to salvation. Therefore I agree , I see no reason or logic which exempts sporting events, UAMS , jails or courtrooms from the benevolent concept of citizens carrying guns. If pistols can be used what reason keeps rifles and shotguns from enjoying a place in a well armed militia?

    I'll put it this way , if Jason the dover wonder can carry, why shouldnt anyone be able to tote the note , anywhere and anytime?

  • RBear
    March 24, 2017 at 10:31 a.m.

    DGT, "whitey gonna get his in the end." Sure, right. The difference is the NRA is peddling goods for the gun industry and the NAACP and BLM are peddling human rights and social justice (I know you conservatives hate that word). Yea, they're the "same."

  • DontGoThere
    March 24, 2017 at 10:43 a.m.

    RBear - if the NAACP & BLM care so much about "human rights & social justice", why don't they care about black on black crimes?

  • RBear
    March 24, 2017 at 12:40 p.m.

    DGT, who says they don't? The only ones I've heard say that are right wingers who mischaracterize their actions. BTW, when's the last time you actually sat down with someone from BLM to find out what they are actually for? If not, then how do you know what they fight for other than listening to Rush or Sean?

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