Arkansas exemptions to new gun law head to governor’s desk

The Arkansas Senate has passed a bill that would allow certain areas in the state to remain gun-free, with Gov. Asa Hutchinson expected to sign the measure as soon as Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Senate Bill 724 will amend the newly passed House Bill 1249, signed into law last month as Act 562, and will allow college sports stadiums and teaching hospitals to submit security plans to Arkansas State Police. If approved, those facilities could then apply for annual waivers to designate areas where guns are prohibited.

The measure now also bans concealed firearms from public day care centers.

The original version of Act 562 greatly expanded where concealed guns could be carried in Arkansas, but caused an uproar when some circles realized firearms would be allowed in heated collegiate athletic events, such as football games at the University of Arkansas.

The Southeastern Conference and two other major college athletic conferences urged the passing of the exemption legislation, while the National Rifle Association opposed the measure, arguing it was an infringement of lawful gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.

Hutchinson said he approved of the new bill and indicated he would sign the measure on Monday.

“It gives confidence to all the fans that were nervous about this that it’s been remedied, and it’s not going to be a problem, and we can enjoy football games and other sports in Arkansas without any problem,” Hutchinson said on radio show Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly.

Other lawmakers, such as Republican Sen. Bryan King, were less than pleased with the bill, complaining it was rushed through the Legislature.

“The way this has been handled has been an embarrassment to the SEC. It’s an embarrassment to put the NRA in this situations,” King said. “It is an embarrassment to put this state in this situation with the way this process has been handled.”