The Arkansas State Police Department released the first draft of the training procedures and licensing required to get the enhanced carry license Oct. 11 that will allow concealed carry on campus sometime next year.
Arkansas State Police are accepting public comments until Nov. 10 about what changes should be made to the draft, but as of Oct. 24, they had received minimal response, said Bill Sadler, Arkansas State Police public information officer, in an email.
The training program will be in place within the first three months of 2018, Sadler said.
Enhanced carry applicants must complete eight hours of instruction proctored by training instructors across the state, according to the draft.
The enhanced training will be offered at all concealed carry training courses by all training instructors. All registered concealed carry instructors must complete an exam regarding the enhanced training license by Jan. 1, 2018. If an instructor cannot complete the exam within three months of the exam’s release, the instructor’s registration will be revoked, according to the draft.
Within these eight hours, instructors must explain the rights and responsibilities of having the enhanced license as well as where carriers cannot have their handguns. Instructors will also go over emergency situations, how to respond to police officers during these situations and the difference between firearm possession and storage, according to the draft.
Applicants will undergo self-defense and weapon-retention training. They also must score at least a 70 percent on a firing-accuracy test, which they get three tries to complete, according to the draft.
A firing-accuracy test is not included in the standard concealed carry training but was added to the enhanced training program with the new revisions.
The firing-accuracy test is meant to “ensure the license applicant can safely handle and correctly fire the weapon,” Sadler said.
In preparation for concealed carry on campus, UA officials have acted as panelists for three forums regarding the new law, two of which have been on campus. One of those was at a Faculty Senate meeting Oct. 26 in Old Main.
Faculty members asked about their own safety as well as the safety of UA students on campus once the training program is implemented.
UA professor Bill McComas told the panel he felt unsafe knowing that students in his class could have handguns.
“I don’t quite understand how I can do my job if I feel unsafe,” McComas said.
At each of the three forums, UA professors asked the panelists if they are allowed to ask students not to carry concealed handguns in their classrooms or into their offices and, at the first two forums, the panelists did not have a straight answer.
Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor of University Relations, answered the question at the Faculty Senate meeting.
“You can state your preference as to whether you would like firearms to be allowed in your area or your office or classroom or not, but you cannot prohibit them,” Rushing said.
UA junior Trystan Spears plans to get an enhanced carry permit after he turns 21 years old in January, but even then, he wants to respect his professors’ wishes about when to carry a gun.
“If I am going into someone’s home, I respect their wishes,” Spears said.
With the enhanced carry license, Spears plans on keeping his handgun in his vehicle more often than on his person. Spears keeps all sorts of tools in his vehicle, and his handgun will be “another tool in (his) toolbox,” he said.
Licensees are allowed to store their handguns on their bodies and in their vehicles, according to the draft.
The enhanced carry license will be valid for five years, according to the draft.
After Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed House Bill 1249 into law earlier this year, Arkansas State Police began drafting a list of rules for those seeking a concealed carry license that will allow them to carry handguns on campus.
The bill was opposed by UA Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz before it was signed into law. Steinmetz released a statement Jan. 23 in which he said the bill threatened the safety of the UA campus and the retention of students, faculty and staff.
UA Police Department officials would not comment on the draft because it is not a finalized training program, UAPD Capt. Matt Mills said in an email.
Mills had not made any suggestions to Arkansas State Police about changes he thinks should be made to the draft as of Oct. 30, he said.