The debate over guns on college campuses continued Wednesday on social media and in the Log Cabin newsroom, after HB1249 was signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The law will go into effect Sept. 1 and will include a variety of public places, the least of all college campuses, that for many of us, have represented relatively "safe spaces" for many years.
The fear of an active shooter situation seemed to be one catalyst for this insanity, as many bill backers expressed that concealed gun toting by of-age, licensed people would somehow allow better campus security — self defense in an active shooter situation, as rudimentary summary.
Campus law enforcement will have to quickly bone up on active shooter scenarios with a new layer of training yet to be designed by State Police. They will have to play the "who is the bad guy" game, which could complicate things for all involved in an emergency.
Administrators at public universities in Arkansas have expressly opposed the notion of guns on campus, — throughout the process being vocal in that opposition. Prior to this law, another passed in 2013 allowed schools to make their own choice as to whether to allow faculty and staff to carry firearms. All those in Arkansas chose to ban guns on campus.
Under the new law, private colleges and universities will have to post signage and notices banning concealed carry. They are not automatically exempt.
Opponents of the law argue that campuses and classrooms should be places in which students focus on learning without, what many see as unnecessary, weapons among them. One lawmaker told the Associated Press that emotionally charged sporting events is one example where adding a gun to the mix of revelry could escalate a volatile situation.
"People like to have a good time before the game, during the game, people get emotional and angry during the game," Democratic Rep. Greg Leding said. "I think the idea of introducing loaded weapons into those situations is just ridiculous."
And he’s not wrong. With a quick review of campus shootings recorded throughout American history, many were not targeting large groups, but were personal in nature:
• 2008: University of Central Arkansas a group of men drove onto the campus and opened fire near the Arkansas Hall dormitory. Police at the time believed it was an isolated occurrence that was not random, although victims were not those intended, according to news reports.
• 2015: One person was killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at an outdoor courtyard at Tennessee State University. The shooting may have stemmed from an argument over a dice game.
• 2016: Student Mainak Sarkar shot dead a professor, William Klug, and then himself, at UCLA.
There are more examples of incidents when illegal campus carry resulted in tragedy. Why exacerbate the potential for violence with a law allowing it?
The details of the new state law and requirements for those carrying will trickle in over the next few months. There undoubtedly will be confusion and confrontation as the law is enforced, not only on campuses, but all the public places this law encompasses.
The Cabin Window is an editorial viewpoint of the Log Cabin Democrat and not the view of any individual.