Anti-Campus Carry Group Hopes Governor Doesn't Pull Trigger on Gun Bill

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The controversial push to expand gun rights on college campuses now heads to the governor's desk.

State representatives gave the legislation their final stamp of approval Wednesday afternoon. 

The governor's office hasn't said whether he intends to sign it, but some are still hoping he doesn't pull the trigger. 

"Would you veto that bill if it came to your desk?," asked Capitol View host Drew Petrimoulx during a show in January. 

"I would not say that," the governor replied. "I haven't talked to Representative Collins yet. I haven't heard the debate."

That was the governor's reaction after Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, first filed his controversial campus carry bill, HB 1249.

After town halls, changes between the House and Senate, and more, the debate concluded Wednesday. 

"The governor made very clear that one of his priorities, if we're going to move in this direction, is to include training above and beyond a CCL permit in order to carry in sensitive areas," Rep. Collins said.  

The final version requires concealed carry holders to go through up to eight hours of training with Arkansas State Police to get an enhanced permit. That opens up college campuses, and also places like bars, churches and the state capitol, to them. 

"This is all about having some of those bad guys say to themselves when they wake up in the morning, 'I'm not going to a college campus today to kill people,'" Rep. Collins said. 

"As it stands, this bill puts a target on all of our backs," said Austin Bailey, the director of the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

Bailey's group supports the second amendment, but she calls the training requirement insufficient and worries the bill would make some situations on college campuses and bars more volatile. 

"If more guns everywhere made us safer, the United States would be the safest country in the world and that is not the case," Bailey said. 

Before the governor signs the bill, Bailey wants lawmakers to stop and think. 

"If they're truly serving the public and keeping their safety in mind or if they're serving the gun lobby," she said. 

However, one representative's mind is made up.

"I think we were able to get an outstanding product," Rep. Collins said. 

He believes this Arkansas model for concealed carry will encourage other states to follow suit. 

"This issue of murderers killing our loved ones on campuses is not confined to Arkansas," Rep. Collins said. "It's a national problem, and many, many, many states have not really been able to move the concealed carry holder into a toolbox as a way to help deter some of these folks." 

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