Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (above), a Republican, signed into law today a bill allowing licensees to carry concealed handguns for personal protection on college campuses, taverns, and the State Capitol building.
As originally drafted, the bill was only supposed to permit the carriage of concealed firearms by licensees who were students or faculty of publicly funded colleges and universities. As it wound its way through the Natural State’s legislature, however, gun rights supporters expanded its wording to cover any licensee on campus, and also to cover bars, and various government buildings.
Gun owners will be legally able to carry in those areas as long as they have new “enhanced” carry license. According to the new law, Arkansas residents must attend an eight-hour training course on active shooter engagement to obtain an enhanced license.
As a result, the law is not exactly an unalloyed win for gun owners, but instead is a step toward strengthening the right to keep and bear arms.
The National Rifle Association backed the bill, and reportedly was working with State Senators Trent Garner and Jim Hendren to ensure the law’s passage earlier this month.
The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2018. Concealed handguns remain banned under Arkansas law in K-12 schools, courtrooms, and prisons.
An opinion by Attorney-General Leslie Rutledge in 2015 clarified that Arkansas is a constitutional open-carry state; concealed carry requires a license. According to Handgunlaw.us, Arkansas honors all other states’ firearms licenses.