Rep. Charlie Collins
BAILEY: Fighting to keep guns off campus.
continues to make the rounds at campus events and town halls, speaking to crowds nearly unified in opposition to his bill to force public universities and colleges to allow staff members to carry concealed handguns. Despite widespread opposition from the campus communities, Collins' bill will likely sail through the senate this week. Republicans at the Capitol like Collins' bill even if the campuses impacted don't.
On Capitol View over the weekend
, Rep. Michelle Gray
, a backer of Collins' bill, faced off against Austin Bailey
, director of the Arkansas Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a citizens group which opposes the bill.
Asked about the fact that virtually every campus police department in the state vigorously opposes the measure, Gray said, "Obviously we don't know better than they do." Nevertheless, she believes it's important to impose the legislature's will on campuses on this topic. She said that rural campuses don't have enough security, so the only way to feel safe would be for concealed carry holders among faculty and staff to arm themselves. On larger campuses that have strong security departments, she questioned whether they would be able to respond to active shooting in time. The chief of police at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville testified that campus security could respond in thirty seconds to two minutes, but Gray said that she would like to see data proving that.
Bailey countered that guns had no place on college campuses, which she described as unique learning environments for young people. "They're much safer than other places," Bailey said. "It would be fantastic if all of Arkansas was as safe as our campuses. Our campus security is doing a great job. This is a solution without a problem."
Gray said that concealed carry permit holders were carrying their weapons in malls and restaurants across the state and things seem to be working out okay.
Currently, campuses have the option to allow faculty and staff with concealed carry permits to carry on campus, but all have chosen not to go that route, leading the legislature to now try to force them to adopt that policy. Gray claimed that a lot of campuses actually want to adopt the policy now, but "have a fear that it's politically incorrect in the climate now to allow guns on campus."
You can watch the full exchange