Arkansas senate votes to exempt sporting events from new concealed gun law

Thursday March 23rd, 2017

The Arkansas senate voted Thursday to exempt college sporting events from a new law allowing concealed handguns on college campuses and other government property.

The law, signed Wednesday by Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson (R.), allows concealed firearms at state colleges, government buildings, some bars and the state capitol. As initially passed, the measure expanded concealed carry to University of Arkansas football and basketball games, but the state senate voted 22-10 on Thursday to add an exemption for sporting events. 

HB1249 states that anyone who takes an eight-hour active shooter training class can earn a concealed handgun license and bring a firearm into a public building. Without the exemption, venues such as Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Bud Walton Arena and other state-owned facilities will be forced to allow concealed handguns to anyone who completed the training. 

The bill exempting sporting events, as well as the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the state hospital, will now move to the Arkansas House for review.  

The new law has been hailed by gun rights advocates. But state representative Greg Leding (D.), who represents Fayetteville, criticized the measure before the sporting event exemption was passed. 

"People like to have a good time before the game, during the game, people get emotional and angry during the game," Leding told the Associated Press. "I think the idea of introducing loaded weapons into those situations is just ridiculous."

The law technically goes into effect on Sept. 1, though it also gives law enforcement until January to craft and implement training programs. 

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