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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - Todd Burns (left), R.J. Durham (middle) and Kaitlyn Ballard walk along a freshly stained sidewalk near Arkansas Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus in Conway in this Aug. 23, 2011 file photo. ( Staton Breidenthal)

Guns on Arkansas college campuses haven't caused any notable problems during the first semester they've been allowed, a variety of administrators from the state's largest universities said at a legislative hearing Thursday on campus safety.

Still, some campus law enforcement officials and lawmakers remain concerned about the pitfalls of allowing firearms at universities and inside dorm rooms.

The college semester now winding down is the first since state firearms instructors began offering courses for the new enhanced concealed-carry licenses. The permits -- created by Act 562 of 2017 -- allow guns to be toted at public colleges and other public places previously off limits.

"We have not seen an issue yet on campus -- I'm gonna knock on some wood here," Capt. Chris Bentley of the University of Central Arkansas Police Department told lawmakers on Thursday.

Officials from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Arkansas State University and a handful of other colleges from around the state echoed the same sentiment Thursday. All said town-hall style meetings and seminars on the new gun-carrying law have been well-attended by students and faculty members, adding that more information sessions will be held for incoming students in the fall.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Police Chief Maxcie Thomas, however, told members of the Arkansas Legislative Council's Higher Education Subcommittee on Thursday that he still has qualms with the new law.

Thomas said he's concerned that a permitted gun carrier could "become an active shooter" if a situation upset him. Additionally, Thomas fears that police would have a hard time distinguishing between an active shooter and gun-carrying resident in an emergency situation.

"It'd be hard to tell a good person from a bad person," he said. "It's really challenging for us."

Conversely, Henderson State University Police Chief Johnny Campbell said licensed firearm carriers could be beneficial in a shooting situation because it could be two or three minutes before police can make it to the scene.

A subcommittee co-chairman, Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, who opposed Arkansas' campus-carry law, acknowledged that no significant issues have arisen yet, but he noted that the licenses only became available in February. He expects the number of enhanced-permit holders on college campuses to increase in the fall.

He's been critical of a quirk in the rules that allows guns to be carried in dorm rooms but not stored. This means that guns in dorms must remain concealed within arm's reach of the licensee at all times. He pointed out that a gun-carrying student must take his handgun to shower or use the restroom in the middle of the night.

He plans to propose legislation to fix the issue next year, in the next regular session.

"My personal preference would be to just not allow guns in dorms at all, but I suspect the only fix that will be tolerable will be to allow [handgun] storage in dorms," he said Thursday.

Officials from the University of Arkansas at Monticello said some students have expressed concerns about sharing a dorm room with a student who can carry a gun, and administrators try to move those students to another room.

Spokesmen for ASU, UA, and UCA said they weren't aware of any such requests at their institutions.

Metro on 05/11/2018

Print Headline: No gun troubles yet, say colleges; Lawmakers hear mixed opinions


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Archived Comments

  • RobertBolt
    May 11, 2018 at 7:50 a.m.

    If we cite a lack of shootings now as evidence this law is a success, we can with equal justification cite the presence of shootings later as evidence this law is a failure.

  • hah406
    May 11, 2018 at 8:22 a.m.

    I venture to say two things. 1. There are probably not many guns on campus, as I doubt many students count firearms as an essential need in their dorm room or fraternity. 2. It is only a matter of time.

  • Packman
    May 11, 2018 at 9:08 a.m.

    Under the Obama administration the CDC suppressed a study that concluded firearms are used some three times more often in defense of a person than in attacks against person.
    It's also a fact gun ownership/use is an incredibly low risk proposition in the US. Considering the miniscule risk, it's simply mind-boggling anyone would oppose providing good guys and gals the opportunity to protect themselves from bad guys/gals at the point of attack.
    When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.

  • Deadeye26
    May 11, 2018 at 9:08 a.m.

    As most idiots seem to forget, only those with criminal intentions are the root cause of any crime, to include those committed with firearms. Start demonizing the individuals who commit the crimes and not the inanimate objects they choose to utilize. Typical ignorant liberal thinking at its best.

  • GeneralMac
    May 11, 2018 at 10:06 a.m.

    Deadeye26............and some " ignorant liberals" are making gun control their litmus test in the upcoming elections..........BOLTAR ( first poster today)

    I stated early on that once the hysteria and rabid foaming at the mouth by gun control fanatics subsides, gun control will rank no higher than #5 in priority this November even among DEMOCRAT candidates.

  • Murphy01
    May 11, 2018 at 10:12 a.m.

    Wonder how many innocent victims will die at the hands of drunk drivers this weekend? My guess is many. But we'll hear nothing of it. At the end of the year the number of victims of drunk drivers will far surpass the number of all "mass shooting" victims of the year, combined, but we'll hear little about it because it's not sexy enough, its not a hot button issue, it's boring, Why aren't these anti gun nuts trying to ban alcohol, hell even cars, the "weapons" of such death and destruction. Drunk driving deaths are a far bigger problem than "mass shootings". Where's the concern for these innocent lives lost? Thats the point right? It may not be the "law" but a person who gets behind the wheel drunk then drives and kills someone is no different than a person who picks up a gun and kills an innocent person walking down the street. Right? Very interesting.

  • RobertBolt
    May 11, 2018 at 10:31 a.m.

    With all the pro-gun experts commenting today, I hope one of them can give me a clear number in response to a direct question: what percentage of shootings involving a shooter also involve firearms? Just about all of the pro-gun experts say that 100% of shootings involving a shooter involve a shooter, so we know the shooters are a big part of the problem. Similarly, if we could just get a clear answer to my question, we might also be able to determine the degree to which firearms are also a part of the problem. Are there as many firearms as there are shooters at these shootings? Any clear numbers here? We sure could use some clear-headed thinking from the pro-gun experts.

  • GeneralMac
    May 11, 2018 at 10:40 a.m.

    What percentage of drunk driving fatalities involve a vehicle?

    Yes, that question was stupid.

    About as stupid as BOLTAR's question.

  • GeneralMac
    May 11, 2018 at 10:43 a.m.

    The police are only good for apprehending the shooter...AFTER.......a crime is committed.

    YOU are responsible for your own safety.

  • RobertBolt
    May 11, 2018 at 10:51 a.m.

    And, of course, you are right, Murphy01, to compare directly cars and guns. They are virtually indistinguishable in their support of our civilized society. Whenever I need to take my kids to school, we just jump in my shotgun and I have them safely there in no time. And imagine how hard it would be to keep the groceries stocked if it wasn't for all the semi-automatics tooling down the road loaded with canned goods. If I have an emergency and need to be taken to the hospital, we just load up the old AR-15, and we're there in no time.
    The same thing with cars. Whenever I want to kill a bunch of concert goers in Nevada, the strategy of choice is to set up a sniper nest in my hotel room and rev the engine. I love the sound of backfire in the morning.
    And these are just the obvious points. Why can't people see how indistinguishable cars and guns are in terms of what they bring to our society? But we don't want to emphasize this point too strongly, because then some of these sissy gun haters would try to make laws requiring as many restrictions on cars as we have on guns, including insurance, licensing, and other stupid stuff. Damned snowflakes trying to ruin our common sense way of life.