RIC Concealed Carry Bill Fails
The Residents’ Interhall Congress voted Monday night against a bill to allow students to have concealed carry weapons on campus in 19-11 vote.
State law claims that for most of Arkansas it is legal to carry a concealed weapon if the person has proper documentation. Concealed carry on college campuses is left at the discretion of university administration and faculty. Other laws prohibit the carrying of weapons inside of campus buildings regardless of university decisions.
The current policy at UA states that the campus is a “gun-free zone;” no weapons are legally allowed on campus.
Joe Youngblood, the RIC senator who wrote and argued in favor of the bill, said these laws leave students defenseless against attacks and are unfair to those who have a concealed carry license.
“Disciplinary action can be taken against students, faculty and staff who are able to carry weapons in the rest of the state,” Youngblood said.
There have been 387 recorded school shootings in the U.S. since 1992, according to Stop the Shootings, an online database for statistics about school shootings with information dating back to 1992. Youngblood said the bill is an effort to curb those numbers.
“No university that goes through one of these attacks thinks that they need this legislation the day before it happens,” Youngblood said.
Many students say that if they or those around them are able to carry concealed weapons, they would feel safer because they could better defend themselves in the case of a shooting.
Devyn Grathwohl, a senior UA ambassador who attended the RIC meeting, opposed the bill. “I understand the need for guns as protection, but it scares me to think that anyone could have a gun on them,” Grathwohl said. “I want to feel safe walking around campus.”
Youngblood also said that more than 200 college campuses now allow concealed carrying and that those campuses have reported no harm committed by anyone carrying a concealed weapon.
“Concealed holders are 300 times less likely to commit a crime with a firearm than the general population,” Youngblood said.
The Traveler could not immediately verify this information.
Officials proposed two separate bills. The first was proposed to allow anyone with a concealed carry license to take their weapons with them onto campus grounds and parking garages, but not into any university buildings.
The second bill would show university officials’ support for state legislators to allow faculty and staff with concealed carry licenses to carry within university buildings.
The debate that preceded the vote was tense with high support on all sides. Matt Seubert, a former ASG member, argued against the bill. The steps necessary to gain a concealed carry license “(do) not qualify an individual to act in a life or death circumstance,” he said.
Tensions on the floor forced senators to a secret ballot vote, so no record of each senator’s vote was officially kept. The bill failed 19-11.
UAPD officials declined to comment on the issue.