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2011 Session of the Arkansas General Assembly Comes to a Close

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The 88th General Assembly of Arkansas concluded most of its business last week, leaving this week to work on redistricting issues.  Unfortunately, the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to take up two pro-gun reforms that had passed the House by wide margins.

House Bill 1873, introduced by state Representative John Catlett (D-61), sought to prohibit public and private employers from imposing policies that would restrict employees from storing a firearm in their vehicle while parked in the employer’s parking lot, if the employee has a valid Arkansas carry permit. It would also have prevented an employer from establishing a condition of employment based on whether or not an employee has a valid Arkansas carry permit.

House Bill 1958, introduced by state Representative Bryan King (R-91), sought to repeal the prohibition on concealed handgun licensees carrying a concealed firearm into a church.

While both of these bills did make it to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s calendar, its Chairman, state Senator Jim Luker (D-17), failed to bring the bills up for consideration.  Senator Luker has never been considered a supporter of the Second Amendment and his failure to allow these bills to be heard is further evidence of his opposition to the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Another NRA-supported bill that saw action this session was House Bill 1479. Introduced by state Representative Charlie Collins (R-89), HB 1479 would have allowed certain employees of universities, colleges, or community colleges to carry a concealed firearm on the campus of their employer, provided they have a valid Arkansas carry permit.  This bill failed to pass out of the House Education Committee when it received only eight of the eleven votes needed to pass.  Those who voted against HB 1479 were Representatives Toni Bradford (D-18), Jerry Brown (D-57), Les “Skip” Carnine (R-94), Jody Dickinson (D-58), Johnnie Roebuck (D-20), Randy Stewart (D-23), Kathy Webb (D-37), and Tommy Wren (D-71).

Also defeated this session was House Bill 1051, introduced by state Representative Denny Altes (R-63).  This was the NRA-supported “Open Carry” Bill, that was defeated in the House Judiciary Committee.  Unfortunately, there was no recorded vote taken, so it is unclear how individual state Representatives on the Committee voted on this measure.

Fortunately, there was a bright spot to this session.  Senate Bill 115, introduced by state Senator Bill Sample (R-19), passed out of the General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Mike Beebe (D).  This law will protect our Second Amendment rights by prohibiting any government agency from confiscating or regulating the lawful possession, transfer, transport and carry of firearms during a state of emergency, such as occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Our thanks go out to those NRA members and Second Amendment supporters who responded to our calls to action by contacting their elected officials in support of these bills.  Next year’s session is a Fiscal Session, so there will be few opportunities to promote pro-gun bills.  If any arise, however, we will be sure to let you know what you can do to help.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.