A-State and students react to proposed concealed carry changes

A-State and students react to proposed concealed carry changes

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - As it stands right now, staff at public colleges like Arkansas State University can carry a concealed weapon if they're licensed to do so and the school hasn't 'opted out' of that law.

Arkansas State did opt out in 2013 but an proposed amendment to that law might take their choice away.

"Those crazy killers will know that if they try and take control of a situation on a college campus, it's possible someone will interfere with their plans," State Representative Charlie Collins told KFSM-TV earlier this month.

Representative Collins, who drafted the original bill in 2013, is now working to amend the law.

"This would remove that opt out provision. So that the individual professor, or full time staff member, can make the decision," he said.

Arkansas State University feels the decision should be left to the ASU Board of Trustees as it has been for for the past two years.

System President Chuck Welch released a statement to Region 8 News on the proposed amendment:

"Arkansas State University opposed a similar piece of legislation in 2013, and the university continues to oppose legislation such as this. The ASU System was grateful to Rep. Charlie Collins in 2013 for allowing the higher education governing boards to make decisions on the local level regarding firearms on college campuses. Each of the ASU System campuses visited with the different campus constituencies about this issue, and each campus recommended to the Board of Trustees that faculty and staff not be allowed to carry firearms on campus. Every other higher education institution in the state of Arkansas took similar action. I feel that this decision should be made at the local level after discussions with the constituencies who would be affected. I still believe that only our licensed law enforcement officers should carry firearms on the ASU System campuses, and that all similar decisions should be made at the local level."

A majority of the students that spoke with Region 8 News on the campus of Arkansas State felt the same way.

"They're trained, they're gonna make better decisions than someone who took an 8 hour class once. You forget your training but the police? They're trained over and over and over to make the right decision," Hayden Blankenship said.

"I don't like it at all. Anybody, a teacher can get mad, anything can go the wrong way," Clifford Thomas told Region 8 News.

"Even when they're armed, it doesn't always help out," Tyler Gillespie said.

Other students we spoke with said they don't mind if the law changes.

"The faculty should be able to decide on their own whether or not they want to carry," Meagan Thomas said. "Especially if they have a license and they want to carry in regular terms and they should be able to carry."

One student said he was okay with the change as long as there can still be some regulation by the Board of Trustees.

"That way they could have a list of people and they could know who was doing it," Logan Wilson said.

If signed into law, the bill would still give private colleges the options to opt out of letting staff carry firearms.

Since being filed, the amendment has been referred to the House Education Committee.

Copyright 2015 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.