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story.lead_photo.caption FILE PHOTO: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/STATON BREIDENTHAL 8/23/11 Todd Burns (left), R.J. Durham (middle) and Kaitlyn Ballard walk along a freshly stained sidewalk near Arkansas Hall in 2011 on the University of Central Arkansas campus in Conway. - Photo by 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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  • RobertBolt
    May 11, 2018 at 1:27 p.m.

    Insightful. Now we learn that abortion, guns, driving, alcohol, tobacco, and bacon are all equivalent. Maybe we should make it simpler and just say everything is the same thing. This way we can avoid addressing every problem. Stand back, everybody. Geniuses at work.

  • Dontsufferfools
    May 11, 2018 at 2:30 p.m.

    I'll keep my BLTs and reliable Ruger SR9, thank you.

  • Packman
    May 11, 2018 at 5:21 p.m.

    Hey Boltar - Stop lying. I answered your question. It just wasn't the answer your broken brain can process. Since you seem to lack the ability to do so allow me to cut to the chase. The answer is 0. Guns are inanimate objects and however they are associated is by a human hand.
    So, Boltar, if I drop the mic on you and it makes a loud noise what percentage of mic drops involve microphones?

  • RobertBolt
    May 11, 2018 at 6:59 p.m.

    The anonymous troll says 0% of shootings involve firearms, and he considers that a victory. Such absurdity proves he is truly unfit to engage in civil discourse, but it does demonstrate one reason he chooses to remain anonymous. I, too, would be embarrassed to attach my name to that asinine comment.

  • Packman
    May 11, 2018 at 7:21 p.m.

    Hey Boltar - That anonymous troll just kicked your a$$ and made you like it. Your participation trophy is in the mail.

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

    At least you have undeniably admitted you are, in fact, an anonymous troll, and your patently absurd statement is documented to your discredit, so I certainly welcome this exchange and have no problem leaving you to enjoy your delusional interpretation. Enjoy your pretended victory, Pyrrhus.

  • WhododueDiligence
    May 11, 2018 at 8:03 p.m.

    GeneralMac, since you support Sarah Cade's statement that her AR-15 is not an assault rifle until she assaults someone with it, do you agree that the AR-15 is an assault rifle when other people use it to kill dozens of people within a few minutes? How about the AR-15s the Las Vegas concert shooter used to kill dozens and wound hundreds within 10 minutes from a distance of a quarter mile and more? Were those not assault rifles? Whatever Sarah chooses to call it or not call it, how many on-target rounds per second and per minute do you suppose Sarah can fire with her AR-15 and how many on-target rounds can she fire with a semi-automatic hunting rifle with normal hunting-capacity magazines? How many more mass shootings by shooters shooting AR-15s do you suppose it will take before Sarah begins to have second thoughts about her relationship with her AR-15?

  • tomezell04240836
    May 13, 2018 at 7:44 a.m.

    Out of curiosity, I'm wondering how many of the folks in this conversation have taken the time or effort to obtain one of the new enhanced licenses, or are you just listening to what everyone else is saying about it? I have obtained one of the new "E-CHCLs", and find it to be a pretty useful thing. This is not something for your average gunslinger, with the ASP's process, these are some of the most vetted and regulated group of citizens short of our law enforcement officers. Your enhanced carriers are definitely not the folks who go around threatening or shooting up the neighborhoods on any regular basis, the vetting process does work to discourage that sort of behavior. Nor are they the folks who waltz into Wal-Mart or Starbucks openly packing a .45 on their hip, upsetting the neighbors.

    It seems that the predictions of the various naysayers have failed to come to pass, thus they need to yell and protest louder to conceal that they were wrong in their predictions.

  • Packman
    May 13, 2018 at 9:28 p.m.

    Hey tomezell - I recently received my enhanced carry license and you are absolutely correct. By all accounts concealed carry is an incredibly low risk proposition that provides opportunity to exercise individual rights as guaranteed by the constitution for personal protection. The gun grabbers aren't anti gun as much as they are anti individual liberty.
    And who's going to tell Boltar the definition of "inanimate object"? The answer to your question, Boltar, is still 0. An inanimate object cannot "involve" anything. Zero. That's the answer to your question. Anything else you need answering?