Gun Bills To Surface At Arkansas General Assembly

State legislators are expected to focus on gun issues when the General Assembly meets Monday to start the 2013 session. Proposals to let Arkansans carry guns in holsters or allow teachers and professors to pack heat could come up as soon as lawmakers return to Little Rock.

Because of the mass school shooting in Connecticut, some Arkansas legislators are considering changes in laws that would allow more people to carry guns legally.

“There are several legislators, myself included, in the group, and we are looking at a wide range of bills,” said Sen.-Elect Jon Woods, R-Springdale. “What if we did away with concealed carry and just said, ‘You can carry, period, if you pass the background test.’?”

Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, is among those who think an overreaction to the Sandy Hook shooting could create problems. 

“I`m not suggesting that the solution is to ban all guns, because I think that is way overreacting too,” Leding said. “But, the idea that guns are the solution, I just think history proves that false.”

Woods said guns are not the problem and banning them won’t stop shootings like at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“The bans just don`t work,” Woods said. “People harm other people. Guns aren`t the ones that choose to get up and do this on their own.”

Another hot topic is the idea of allowing guns in schools, college campuses and churches.

Leding said adding guns to those places will not make for a more secure environment.

“I`m opposed to guns in churches. I`d be opposed to arming teachers and that kind of thing,” Leding said. “But, I know we will have those discussions once the session gets going.”

Leding and Woods said they also will join other lawmakers in looking at mental health issues in seeking ways to address incidents such as the mass shooting at Sandy Hook. 

While the 89th General Assembly begins Monday, Governor Mike Beebe will deliver his State of the State Address the next day, on Tuesday, at 10:30 a.m. at the Capitol.

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