First of all, I would like to thank all those who have voiced their concern about Representative Charlie Collins' new gun bill, recently introduced to the 91st Arkansas General Assembly. Your support has been invaluable, and because of it, we are dramatically raising awareness about this dangerous piece of legislation.
If you haven't read the bill, and would like to do so, you can access it here: HB 1249. Several of my colleagues and I have been actively opposing Representative Collins' bills since he began introducing them in 2011, and the support we have received this year has been truly remarkable.
We deeply appreciate the help, the assistance, and the advice from so many perspectives—together we are making real progress in raising awareness about the dangerous implications of this legislation.
Our ultimate goal, of course, is to prevent the bill from passing, but with the current alignments in the Assembly, we have always felt that if this were not possible, we would at least leave a public and responsible record of our opposition to it.
That was a secondary goal, and because of the support we have received, we will certainly accomplish that.
So again, thank you for your help.
If you're new to this legislation, here's a few things you need to know. And here, too, I will chart the progress of the bill as it moves through the two chambers of the General Assembly.
- The new bill differs from Act 226 (the current law regarding campus-carry on public institutions of higher learning in our state) in that it removes the opt-out clause: our Boards of Trustees would no longer have the right to opt out of campus carry for the schools that they have been overseeing throughout the history of higher education in Arkansas. We feel this is an unnecessary intrusion into the local governance of our colleges and universities, a governance that has worked so successfully for so long.
- The bill was filed on Monday, January 23rd, but its hearing in the House Judiciary Committee (where it begins its life) was postponed until Tuesday, January 31st. We're not certain why the bill was delayed, but it does give us some time to call the members of the Committee and voice our opinion (linked above).
- After the bill leaves the Judiciary Committee, it would go to the House floor, presumably the same week. If it receives a successful vote there, the Bill would then, the following week, go to a Senate committee (as of yet undetermined), and if it makes it out of that committee, on to the Senate floor for a final vote. So if everything proceeds normally (which we hope it doesn't), the process would take two weeks once it begins on Tuesday, January 31. Of course, things can and do change unexpectedly, so while the bill is in motion, it's important to keep abreast of its progress. You can do that by accessing the page for the General Assembly. The menu on the left side of the page will direct you to the bill's progress.
- We are planning a Capitol "meet-up" on Tuesday, January 31. For details, go to our Facebook page for the event.
- We also have a Facebook page for all things concerned about gun legislation in Arkansas, Arkansans Against Guns on Campus, and it will have the most recent information about the bill's progress, and any action steps that you might take. Stop by, if you haven't already, and give us a "like." We appreciate your support.
- If you use Twitter, the relevant hashtags are #arleg, #arpx, and, specifically, #HB1249 for this bill. But any and all of these hashtags will often lead you to tweets concerning this legislation.
- This week alone we have seen public opposition to the bill arrive from the Chancellor's office at the University of Arkansas, the mayor's office in Fayetteville, as well as from the Chamber of Commerce in Fayetteville. You can find a helpful summary of these three positions at the Fayetteville Flyer.
- Also President Chuck Welch of Arkansas State University has publicly opposed #HB1249 through his Twitter account.
- President Houston Davis of UCA came out against #HB1249 on the University's Facebook page.
- Also, if you are an employee of the University of Arkansas, you should know the Board's policies regarding political activity. They are clearly articulated here.
- The bill passed out of House Judiciary today, January 31, with the vote being 11-5. It proceeds later this week to the House floor, and next week on to a Senate committee, as of yet to be identified.
- HB 1249 has landed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jeremy Hutchinson. It's in our favor that the committee has a very full agenda because it buys us some time to continue to make our points known.
- Note: if you'd like to check the legislative calendar, go the General Assembly home page. Once there, you will see a calendar titled, "Today's Meetings." Just below it, on the right-hand side, you will see the labels, "Weekly View," and "Monthly View." Clicking on the "Weekly View" will obviously take you to the calendar for the upcoming week. Scroll though and you'll see that a Judiciary Committee does, indeed, meet on Tuesday, but it's the House Committee. And as you look through the Monthly View, you'll see that very little has been scheduled.
- HB 1249, as of Wednesday February 8, has been special-ordered to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, February 15.
- HB 1249 was passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee after much testimony against it, 7-1, on February 15.
- HB 1249, when it arrived on the Senate floor on February 16, passed with a hostile amendment, offered by Jeremy Hutchinson. The amendment required enhanced training of no fewer than 16 hours. Because the bill received this hostile amendment, it will return to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further deliberations, most likely next Monday, February 20, although the situation is very fluid. Details to follow.
- HB 1249, in its newly amended form, which amendment was created over the weekend, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 21. The new bill, which heads next to the Senate floor next, is a radical expansion of the bill with the hostile amendment. This new bill allows the general public, as well as faculty and staff, over the age of 25 to carry on campus as long as they have a CHL that "may" require no more than 16 hours extra training. And that extra training is not mandated in the bill.
- Note—this last amendment, which expanded the original bill, is seen as the third amendment. The first amendment was simply to acquire a co-sponsor, Linda Collins-Smith. The Hutchinson amendment would then have been the second, and this last one the third.
- HB 1249, in its newly amended form, on Wednesday, February 22, passed the Senate floor vote, 21-10.
- On Monday, February 27, HB1249, the Garner-amended bill, was re-referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee to work out a compromise between it and the Collins-Smith amendment. Today, Senator Garner (the Senate sponsor of the bill) changed his mind and supported Collins-Smith's request to re-refer the bill to Committee. In doing so, he went against the compromise he made with the Governor and Senators Hendren and Hutchinson, a compromise he says he can no longer support, and he gave an impassioned defense of a pure 2A bill with no training. He went on to inform the Senate that he has now filed a separate bill for permit-less carry statewide. A representative from the NRA was in the chamber for this speech. After Senator Garner's speech, the Senate then voted 21-10 (with all 9 Democrats and Republican Jeremy Hutchinson opposed) to send the bill back to Committee where a new "compromise" can be worked out between the bill as it stands and the Collins-Smith amendment. If they can come to consensus, the bill, once again, will most likely be a more lenient version.
And then it will head back to the Senate floor again.
- On Wednesday, March 22, Asa Hutchinson signed HB1249 into law, with no carve-outs for athletics, hospitals, and day-care centers. He acknowledged at the press conference that he knew firearms would be allowed into the stadium. An uproar arose gradually across the state, and by the end of the week, the House had recessed to work on an amendment.
- That amendment was SB724, providing carve-outs for athletics, day-care centers, and the hospitals. The bill went through the Senate Judiciary committee and the Senate floor vote and ultimately arrived in the House Judiciary committee, where it was passed on Wednesday, March 28.
- On the same day of that vote, the SEC released a statement in support of the athletics carve-out.
- On Wednesday, March 29, an amendment to HB724 was passed clarifying language concerning the hospital's opt-out.