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Arkansas: Urge Your Legislators to Protect the Church Protection Act and Support Right-to-Carry Confidentiality

Friday, February 15, 2013

House Bill 1284, an anti-gun bill designed to completely neutralize the intent of the recently-enacted Senate Bill 71, is on the agenda of the House Judiciary Committee and could be heard the next time this committee meets.  SB 71, signed into law on February 11, removes the absolute prohibition on concealed handgun carry license (CHCL) holders from carrying a concealed firearm for personal protection into any church or other place of worship. Churches and other places of worship can now decide if CHCL holders will be allowed to carry concealed firearms on their property.

Anti-gun proponents have latched onto HB 1284, introduced by state Representative Reginald Murdock (D-48), as an attempt to undermine the significant advances made by SB 71.  HB 1284 would require any place of worship that chooses to respect the right to self defense and allow CHCL holders to carry a firearm to post their property.  In effect, this legislation would require a WARNING that law-abiding citizens may be allowed to carry their lawfully concealed firearms at that particular house of worship.  Essentially, Representative Murdock and supporters of this legislation appear to feel that CHCL holders represent a potential danger to others, and those others need to be warned of their presence.  This, of course, would not only lead to discouraging houses of worship from allowing lawful carry on their property, but would undermine the intent of Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws.  RTC laws are designed to ensure criminals have no idea which of their potential victims may be lawfully carrying a concealed firearm at any given time.

The next meeting of the House Judiciary Committee has yet to be scheduled, but it will likely be held next week.  It is imperative that you contact members of the House Judiciary Committee IMMEDIATELY, and urge them to oppose HB 1284.

Senate Bill 131 is also moving in the state legislature.  SB 131, which passed in the state Senate last week on a bipartisan 24-9 vote, has now been given a “Do Pass” recommendation in the House Judiciary Committee and will proceed to the full House where it will be scheduled for further consideration.  This legislation, introduced by state Senator Bruce Holland (R-9), would close the loophole that allows media outlets to obtain and publish the names and zip codes of concealed handgun carry license (CHCL) holders.  Under this legislation, personal information on license holders would be accessible only as part of an official criminal investigation.

Please contact your state Representative and urge her or him to support SB 131. Please remind your Representative that this legislation would offer critical privacy protection of law-abiding gun owners, and that 31 states have already enacted protections for gun owners by classifying personal permit information contained in firearm permits as confidential.

As we have previously reported, a spokesman for Governor Mike Beebe (D) stated that the Governor opposes this measure.  Therefore, also please contact Governor Beebe and urge him to reconsider his position by delivering the same message to him that you deliver to your state Representative.

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