Legislation allowing faculty and staff with a concealed carry license (CCL) to carry a weapon on campus passed the state Senate yesterday — but only after becoming attached to what some of its supporters described as a hostile amendment.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had rejected the same amendment earlier in the week, but it was brought up again for a vote before the full Senate by state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson Thursday. The amendment passed by a margin of 21 to 10.
Hutchinson said he agreed with the intent of the original legislation, but added that additional training requirements were the “right policy.”
I don’t think anybody could argue that some training is not better than no training.
The Senate sponsor of the “Campus Carry” legislation, Sen. Trent Garner, opposed the amendment, essentially because it required faculty and staff to pay more money to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
This amendment was thrown on at the 11th hour…I didn’t see it until I was presenting the bill with Rep. Collins [Wednesday]. This [unamended] bill is the bill that should go through. We tell the people of Arkansas that if you get a CCL…if you get the training, you can carry that gun in pretty much any place in Arkansas with few exceptions. They can carry outside this Capitol or at work if their employer allows it. Somehow when they become a professor or go work for the university they become a special class of people…people we don’t trust with a gun unless they go get two days of intense training. That would be money out of their pockets to use their Constitutional rights.
State Sen. Jim Hendren said he supported the amendment to give faculty and staff with a CCL “a couple of days of additional training.” Hendren suggested that a CCL only prepared licensees for “personal defense.”
I think all of us know the purpose of this legislation is not personal defense. It’s about defending what many of us would consider a soft target because it’s in a gun-free zone against an entirely different event than a home break-in or a stick up in an alley somewhere…against someone with an automatic weapon who’s broken into a school to do mass casualties.
The biggest problem I see with this amendment is that the 16 hours (or “couple of days”) of additional training referenced by some legislators could actually end up being the minimum. The amendment states that a governing board of a public university or community college can require employees with a CCL to complete a training program of “at least” 16 hours.
In other words, the training requirement could actually be much longer than just a couple of days. Higher education administrators are almost all opposed to allowing licensed faculty and staff to exercise this Constitutional right. It’s not a stretch to believe this amendment could become de facto gun control — especially if higher education officials are permitted to mandate that employees with a CCL have to attend a training program with high financial and time costs.
Sen. Bart Hester, who voted against the amendment, has suggested that the legislation be amended again to allow college students over 21 to carry — assuming that the training amendment stays in. Although that would make the bill better by opening up the pool of CCL holders able to carry on campus, it still doesn’t solve a central problem: the training requirements will still be written by anti-Second Amendment higher education officials to discourage carrying on campus.
Ideally, there wouldn’t be any additional training requirements for faculty and staff in the final version of this bill. However, if we must subject Arkansans with a CCL to additional training burdens, there should be a reasonable maximum limit on training time and cost to these individuals so as to guard against regulatory chicanery in the implementation of this legislation.
Rep. Charlie Collins and 32 other House members voted down a higher education appropriation yesterday over concerns about the “campus carry” amendment, so I guess we’ll find out next week if this will temper the higher education lobby’s phobia towards “campus carry.” A bill that is amended on the Senate floor must inevitably return to Senate committee, so you can expect more discussion of Second Amendment rights in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.