Arkansas is one of many states where people who are authorized to carry a firearm can do so on college campuses, people who have undergone the extensive background checks required for concealed carry permits. In the case of college students with carry permits, a massive percentage of them are military veterans who have been trusted with carrying far more firepower than a concealed carry weapon and done so responsibly.
So far, campus carry hasn’t been an issue. We haven’t seen the countless deaths we were assured would follow if we started allowing students to carry firearms. In fact, things have been calm pretty much everywhere.
But that fact isn’t stopping one Arkansas activist and his fellow travelers from trying to overturn campus carry in the state.
An initiated act to let state colleges and universities decide whether to allow concealed carry firearms on campus is likely to go to the 2020 ballot, an organizer of several successful ballot initiatives told a crowd of about 150 people Saturday.
“People are polling over it, and if those polls show what we expect then there will be a guns-on-campus initiated act to return local control to each college and university,” said David Couch of Little Rock. He spoke to the crowd at the Little Flock picnic, an annual fundraiser and rally of the Democratic Party of Benton County.
Act 562 of 2017 allows gun owners with the proper permits and extra training to carry concealed handguns onto state-run college campuses and into the state Capitol and other public buildings. Prior to Act 562, state colleges decided gun policy. None allowed guns on campus. The final version of Act 562 passed 71 to 18 in the House.
Guns rights advocate Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville, said he was disappointed Couch would attempt a repeal to overturn a law with broad public support but expects to be pleased by the result of any such election on the issue.
“I’m confident that Arkansans support gun rights,” Ballinger said after Couch’s announcement. “If he wants to put an issue on the ballot that will get my base turned out to vote for Republicans while upholding their Second Amendment rights, that’s fine with me.” The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants the right to bear arms.
Of course, Couch knows damn good and well that colleges are liberal bastions in the middle of even the reddest of red states. No campus will permit firearms on their premises if given a choice. However, they also are completely unable to protect students from the depraved intentions of everyone from petty thieves to mass shooters.
To make matters worse, there aren’t any issues with the law as it stands right now. There aren’t a ton of problems illustrating some mythological need to change the law. Not in Arkansas and not anywhere else, either.
My take is that when you’re trying to take away someone’s freedom, you have to give a very compelling reason to do so. Couch doesn’t have one. He simply wants to change the law because he finds this particular freedom icky.
That’s all this is.
If you’re in Arkansas, you know what you need to do. You need to work against this measure and make sure it dies a fiery death so that Couch won’t even think about trying something like this again. It seems Couch was emboldened by past success with ballot initiatives. This time, he needs to be defeated so horribly that his great-grandchildren will think twice about pushing gun control like this.