FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- The chancellor of the largest campus in the state said he opposes a bill that would require state schools to allow faculty and staff to conceal carry on campus.
Right now, the law allows colleges and universities to opt out of allowing conceal carry which all state schools have done.
University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz released a statement this morning that said he agrees with the governor who feels allowing each campus to make its own decision regarding conceal carry on campus is working. He released this statement:
“The University of Arkansas agrees with the governor’s position that the current law allowing local boards of trustees to disallow the carrying of guns on campus is working and doesn’t need to be changed. Our own law enforcement officers do not believe that the campus would be safer if guns are permitted. We have serious concerns about increasing the number of armed individuals posing a significant threat, particularly in an active situation when officers must make immediate determinations about who is a threat. Also, though not as important as the safety of campus, a campus carry bill has the potential to negatively affect the recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff.”
Fayetteville Representative Charlie Collins proposed the bill.
“On about a monthly basis we have shootings on school grounds and we need to do something about it because this is a problem that continues month after month, year after year,” Collins said.
But senior Caleb Conrad said this isn't a gun issue for him. He believes it's just bad policy and feels safe on campus now.
“I would feel much less safe knowing that there are guns all around because essentially if something happened God forbid on campus, the amount of cross...We are creating a war zone with more guns, more people could be hurt,” Conrad said.
Sophomore Hunter Guynn disagrees and feels Collins' bill would make campus safer.
“With all the recent school shootings and all that stuff obviously, you are going to have people who are registered with it, you are not going to have some idiots or people like that with a concealed carry,” Guynn said.
Conrad said the opposition is overwhelming and hopes their voices are heard by the legislators in Little Rock.
"We are who the bill affects and he sites gun activists who support the bill but essentially we are the ones who matter here and we are the ones who matter here,” Conrad said.
“The goal here is make the solution something that we can get a good outcome with not increase the risk because the goal is protecting our loved ones on college campuses,” Collins said.
Collins filed the bill Monday (Jan. 23). The house judiciary committee will discuss it on January 31st and if it's approved by the full house and senate it would take effect in September.
Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan released this statement about the bill:
“As the mayor of a university community, I have a record of commitment to public safety for all our residents, and I would never support or remain silent about public policies that could put our students, faculty, staff, or campus visitors at risk. The ‘Campus Carry’ act, HB1249, recently introduced to the Arkansas General Assembly causes me great concern. I know that a safe, supportive campus environment is necessary for learning and personal growth at the University. In discussing this matter with Fayetteville’s Police Chief, we believe the ability for the public to carry concealed handguns on campus poses difficult challenges. If the Fayetteville Police Department were called to provide assistance in an active threat situation, it must be clear at the scene that firearms are limited to trained and supervised police officers. We agree with Chancellor Steinmetz’s and University’s position that HB1249 would not make campuses safer. The decision to allow concealed handguns on campus should ultimately be decided by universities and colleges across Arkansas. Therefore, with safety and security at the heart of my intent in opposing this bill, I am asking all members of the Arkansas General Assembly to oppose and defeat this legislation to allow concealed handguns on college and university campuses.”