House Democrat files bill to repeal gun-law provision

Rep. Denise Garner, D-Fayetteville, is shown in this file photo.
Rep. Denise Garner, D-Fayetteville, is shown in this file photo.

The House lawmaker who defeated the author of Arkansas' guns-on-campus law in last year's election filed her own bill on Wednesday to repeal a provision of that law that forced public schools to allow concealed carry.

Rep. Denise Garner, D-Fayetteville, also filed a pair of other bills that would require background checks on every gun purchase -- removing a loophole for private sellers -- and mandate "restraint" holders for people carrying weapons.

Garner, who said she is a gun owner, defeated then-Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, in November. Her campaign largely focused on Collins' efforts to push through Act 562 of 2017, which allows gun owners with some extra training to carry concealed handguns onto college campuses and into the state Capitol and other public buildings.

Before Act 562, public colleges had been allowed to ban guns on campus, and such policies were enacted by every higher-education institution.

"My legislation is not coming from a place of extremism, it's about moderation," Garner told reporters during a news conference.

House Bill 1938 would restore the ability of public universities and colleges to adopt gun-free policies. House Bill 1939 would require universal background checks. House Bill 1940 would require holsters with additional restraints.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

Collins, who now works for the state Department of Finance and Administration, declined to comment.

The bills likely face opposition from Republicans, who control both chambers of the Legislature. The session is expected to last just a few more weeks.

Garner said she had spoken with several other Republicans in the freshman caucus about her bills and received some support. No Republicans have publicly endorsed any of her proposals.

Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, tweeted that Denise Garner's bills were a "trifecta of bad ideas that only harm law-abiding gun owners."

Arkansas has one of the highest rates of gun violence deaths in the country, a study of federal mortality data by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found last year. Arkansas lawmakers have generally opposed the types of gun-control measures adopted by states with lower rates of gun deaths.

Last week, two Senate Democrats, Greg Leding of Fayetteville and Will Bond of Little Rock, filed legislation to follow the lead of several other states in allowing judges to sign temporary orders to seize weapons from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. That bill is still in committee.

Republicans defeated another gun-control proposal that Democrats had hoped would gain bipartisan support. House Bill 1655, by Rep. Nicole Clowney, D-Fayetteville, would have prohibited gun ownership by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

A Section on 03/28/2019

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