Arkansas lawmakers vote to add more restrictions to new gun law

A day after Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a pro-gun bill into law, the Arkansas Senate passed a measure that would restrict the areas where guns can be carried in the state.

The new proposal, Senate Bill 724, was passed on a 22-10 vote in the Senate on Thursday and would prohibit gun owners from carrying firearms into college sporting events, according to the Associated Press. It would also ban guns from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the state hospital.

Act 562, formally known as House Bill 1249, was signed by Hutchinson on Wednesday and would let gun owners with concealed carry permits take their guns into many more areas than previously allowed — including government buildings, colleges, the state Capitol and some bars — so long as they complete eight hours of additional training.

Some lawmakers became concerned that the law would allow firearms into college sports venues such as University of Arkansas’s Razorback Stadium, noting there are already security and police officers at the games to offer protection. This concern ultimately led them to propose the exemptions to the newly signed law.

“It’s one of those areas where I don’t think the value offsets the risk,” said Republican Sen. Jim Hendren, the Senate majority leader. “There’s alcohol, there’s people getting excited and so probably I think most people agree that maybe this is one of those areas we ought to think about before we expand the privileges.”

Hutchinson offered his support for the new exemptions.

“The unique environment of a teaching hospital makes it reasonable to exempt UAMS, and the other exception for college sporting events addresses the concerns expressed by many Arkansans. Because these appear to be reasonable exceptions, I will support these amendments,” Hutchinson said.

Many supporters of the original bill, including the National Rifle Association, were not happy about the proposed changes, arguing they restrict the rights of lawful gun owners.

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