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Hutchinson considering special session on school safety

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 7:12 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) – More than a week after a Texas shooting resulted in 21 victims losing their lives, lawmakers are doing their part to combat the growing epidemic of gun violence.

On Thursday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a pen and pad session, where he recommended the state use part of its surplus to increase school safety.

He said the issue itself could be discussed in a special legislative session which could also include possible tax relief for Arkansans as prices continue to jump across the nation.

The surplus funds would assist schools in implementing safety measures, including increased school counseling, armed presence in schools, and prevention efforts.

These were some of the recommendations made by the Arkansas School Commission back in 2018, and some of them were adopted, according to the director of the commission, Dr. Cheryl May

The measures adopted included Act 190, which would increase the time counselors spend with students.

“We’ve never stopped working on these issues,” May said.

The funding could be in the form of a grant program, to which $50 million would be appropriate, according to Gov. Hutchinson.

Regarding lifting the age requirement for gun ownership, Gov. Hutchinson said there could be “an honest conversation” about raising the age limit from 18 to 21.

He, however, added it would be challenging, referencing a similar law passed by California, which the courts struck down as “unconstitutional”.

“What we do, we have to do smartly, and we have to do working together and thinking it through as to whether it will make a difference and whether it’s consistent with our second amendment liberties,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

When it came to increased background checks or ammunition limits, Gov. Hutchinson referred to a group of bipartisan U.S. senators set to discuss gun control measures.

“They’re going to be looking at background checks and the thoroughness of those because we don’t want to have those that are convicted felons getting the firearms,” he said. “We want good prosecution of those that try to get them unlawfully and we certainly don’t want those that have several mental health issues acquiring them.”

The special session could happen as soon as July, but Gov. Hutchinson did not confirm those details.

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