New laws that require public universities in Arkansas to allow individuals over 21 years old to carry handguns on college campuses are going into effect this month, and UA officials will host a forum on the subject to help prepare students, faculty, and staff for the changes.
The forum will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan 25 in the E.J. Ball Courtroom inside the School of Law.
According to a press release issued this week, campus officials will be on hand at the forum to give an update on implementation of the law and answer questions from the campus community. The meeting will also be live streamed, and a recording will be made available online after the forum is completed.
The event will include four panelists, including:
Steve Gahagans, director, University of Arkansas Police Department
Matt McCoy, associate general counsel
Terry Martin, vice provost for academic affairs
Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor for University Relations
Up-to-date info about the new law, including frequently asked questions, has also been posted on a safety website developed by the UA.
The legislation was proposed by Arkansas Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville. Collins’ initial proposal would have allowed only UA faculty and staff to carry weapons on campus, but legislators ultimately expanded the law to include anyone over 21 at the urging of lobbyists from the National Rifle Association.
Collins authored a similar law that passed the legislature in 2013 that allowed universities to opt of of allowing concealed carry on campus, and brought the legislation back this session to remove the opt out clause after every university in the state exercised the opt out option each year since the legislation was introduced.
The legislation going into effect now does not allow that “opt out” option for universities, and legislators passed the new campus carry laws despite opposition by the universities of the state including the flagship University of Arkansas, local police, and city and chamber of commerce officials.
The legislation became law on Sept. 1, 2017, but couldn’t be implemented until the state police had established rules for enhnaced training required to obtain the new permit. Those rules were posted earlier this month.
The forum scheduled for Thursday will be open to the public.