Arkansas lawmakers OK rules for expanded guns measure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers approved rules Friday for a new measure expanding where concealed handguns are allowed, rejecting concerns that it would allow students to have guns in dorms or could infringe on Second Amendment rights.

The Legislative Council approved the rules for carrying out the law, which allows people with concealed handgun licenses to carry at college campuses, government buildings and some bars if they undergo additional training. The council is the Legislature’s main governing body when lawmakers aren’t in session.

The panel rejected an effort to block the rules by lawmakers who objected to a provision allowing guns in dorm rooms if they’re kept within arm’s reach of the person with the enhanced concealed handgun license. The law prohibits guns from being stored in dorm rooms, but the rules say storage doesn’t include the gun being kept in the immediate vicinity of someone with an enhanced license. In other words, people can’t leave their guns in a dorm room if they’re not in the room.

“We believe it was contrary to legislative intent of what was already a bad law. Now it’s making it a terrible law that you can have a gun in a dorm room if you have an enhanced carry permit,” Democratic Sen. Will Bond said after the vote.

The panel also rejected an effort by lawmakers who complained that any limits on where a gun can be carried violate the U.S. and Arkansas constitutional protections to bear arms.

“Man has no right to infringe upon a God-given right and that’s what this is about,” Republican Sen. Gary Stubblefield said.

Several lawmakers also said they’ll propose next year easing a requirement under the law that concealed handgun instructors offer training for both the regular and the enhanced licenses. Arkansas has about 225,000 concealed handgun license holders and about 1,000 instructors, according to State Police. The Legislature meets in February for a session focused on the state’s budget.

“I have heard for some time from instructors that there are a good amount of instructors that are simply going to quit if they are forced” to offer both forms of training, Republican Sen. Terry Rice said.

Instructors will be given six months under the rules to pass a test in order to offer the additional concealed handgun license training.

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