On March 1, Governor Mike Beebe (D) signed House Bill 1243 into law. As introduced by state Representative Charlie Collins (R-84), HB 1243 sought to allow staff and faculty of a public university, public college or community college, to carry a concealed handgun in the buildings of the institutions where they are employed if they have a valid Concealed Handgun Carry License (CHCL). It would also remove the absolute prohibition on CHCL holders carrying into the buildings of a private college or university. Private universities and colleges would still be permitted to establish their own restrictions on CHCL holders.
While this bill was amended in the House Education Committee to provide public colleges and universities the same ability to establish restrictions as private institutions, it remains a pro-gun reform that the NRA supports. HB 1243 is not as broad as when it was introduced, but still represents a clear improvement over the current absolute prohibition on carrying by CHCL holders on university and college campuses. The NRA thanks Governor Beebe for signing this pro-gun reform into law and thanks all state legislators who voted for House Bill 1243.
However, we still need you to contact your legislators and encourage them to act on House Bill 1408. HB 1408 is a common sense pro-gun reform that would simply add open carry to the methods by which a current Concealed Handgun Carry License (CHCL) holder may carry his personal protection handgun. While most license holders would likely continue to discreetly carry their handguns concealed , HB 1408 would eliminate any potential problems a license holder may encounter should a concealed firearm accidentally become exposed. It would also allow licensees to remove a jacket during hot weather without running afoul of the current concealed carry statute, should that action cause a handgun to become exposed.
Unfortunately, HB 1408 failed to get the necessary votes to be reported by the House Judiciary Committee—but could be heard again in the future! Please contact members of the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to support the NRA’s efforts to pass HB 1408 and oppose any efforts that will create restrictive and unnecessary regulations for open carrying.
The NRA would like to issue an important clarification regarding the House Judiciary Committee vote on HB 1408. We mistakenly listed Representative Mary Slinkard (R-92) as “present and not voting.” However, Representative Slinkard was unable to attend the hearing and was unable to vote.