Our Governor, Guns & the NRA
But, was it a surprise to our Governor? Where does our Governor really stand on our Constitutional right to bear arms?
The Senate passed SB724 — deleting UAMS, collegiate sporting events (aka Razorback sporting events), and ‘teaching hospitals’ from the list of places where firearms can be carried by concealed permit holders — (with two formal votes) in quick order on Thursday, just one day after Gov. Hutchinson signed the hotly debated HB1249 “campus carry” bill into law.
The NRA had just played a significant role — as did the Governor — in gaining legislative approval for HB1249, which Hutchinson signed behind closed doors Wednesday morning. And the NRA, after much wrangling, had given its approval to the bill.
HB1249 allows concealed carry permit holders to carry their firearms at public college campuses and other previously prohibited places such as the state Capitol. HB1249 underwent several competing revisions before it was finally passed, with the Governor ultimately insisting on requiring permit holders to obtain more training to take advantage of the bill’s carry provisions.
Nevertheless, Governor Hutchinson was quoted in the newspaper as saying HB1249 is “well balanced”:
“This bill in my view reflects the will of the General Assembly and is constitutional and will balance public safety and the Second Amendment,” Hutchinson said.
Rep. Trent Garner (HB1249’s primary co-sponsor with Rep. Charlie Collins) says Thursday’s Senate-approved SB724 “is a big step back from what we signed into law yesterday.” Garner says when SB724 was filed a few weeks back, it dealt only with signage related to campus carry on private campuses but “there was a major change yesterday I did not know about until the bill was engrossed” — and that change bars concealed-permit holders from carrying firearms at “collegiate sporting events.”
Even Left-leaning John Brummett of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette correctly calls out the Governor’s ploy to avoid NRA censure. After all, he says, “The NRA reigns in Arkansas. A bad grade from the NRA could get an old boy beaten for re-election.”
With this thought in mind, the Governor’s comments about HB1249 being “the will of the General Assembly” take on quite another meaning than when we first heard those words on Wednesday.
Gov. Hutchinson signed HB1249 into law when he knew he would support SB724 to change it immediately, planning to bar more locations from campus carry while not running afoul of that prized NRA rating — adding insult to injury, in light of the significant influence he had on weakening the original HB1249 campus carry legislation.
The NRA says they stand firmly against SB724, which now goes to the House for consideration during the fast-track last few days of the 91st General Assembly.
Arkansas conservatives, is our Governor more concerned about his NRA rating, your Second Amendment rights, or pleasing the University of Arkansas on campus carry?
Were these kinds of legislative schemes by the Republican Governor and the GOP-controlled Legislature what you voted for last November?