- Associated Press - Friday, February 24, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson opposes an effort backed by the National Rifle Association to remove a training requirement and age restriction from legislation allowing concealed handguns at Arkansas colleges and universities, his office said Friday.

Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis said the Republican governor, who headed an NRA task force that called for trained, armed personnel at schools, opposes a proposal that would allow anyone with a concealed handgun license to carry on campus. The current version of the bill allows those 25 and older who are licensed to carry if they’ve undergone up to 16 hours of active shooter training.

“The governor supports Rep. Charlie Collins’ bill as amended that would allow for concealed carry on college campuses with active shooter training,” Davis said, referring to the sponsor of the current campus guns bill. “This bill allows for concealed permit holders to carry their firearm on campuses, which was not previously allowed.”

Arkansas law leaves the decision on whether to allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus up to the schools, but none have opted to do so since it was enacted in 2013.

Davis said the governor objected to removing the training requirement as well as eliminating exemptions that are currently in the legislation, including ones for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Clinton School for Public Service, which is located next to former President Bill Clinton’s library and museum in downtown Little Rock.

Hutchinson, a former federal Homeland Security official and congressman, was tapped by the NRA to lead a task force that called for armed, trained school personnel after the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting in 2012.

Republican Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, who introduced the amendment on Thursday, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday evening. The Senate on Thursday rejected a motion to send the bill back to committee to take up Collins-Smith’s proposal, but she’s left open the possibility she’ll ask the full Senate to consider her amendment. The Senate is expected to take up the campus guns bill next week.

The NRA had supported an initial version of the bill approved by the House that would have allowed faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus. But the group dropped its support after it was amended through a deal struck between Hutchinson and lawmakers, and has called the age and training requirements excessive.


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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