Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law Wednesday that will allow people with a concealed handgun license to carry those guns on college campuses, including stadiums, as well as other public places such as bars and government offices.
I know what you're thinking: this is political maneuvering, maybe some legislator tacked on this tiny bit of NRA propaganda to, like, the state budget or some health care legislation that desperately needed to pass and no one was going to vote against, and the governor certainly wasn't going to veto it. But no! This was entirely on purpose, a standalone bill that allows people to strap loaded agents of death to their legs and go just about anywhere (provided they have "eight hours of active-shooter training" first, according to the AP, which, sure, that should help).
It is, according to the governor, the will of the people.
"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 at a news conference after signing the measure.
According to census information from 2016, the state population of Arkansas is 2.99 million. According to the Associated Press, roughly 220,000 Arkansans have concealed handgun licenses. Approximately 93 percent of the population does not and is not served by this bill. And the reason you know that is because there is already a similar law on the books.
In 2013, Arkansas passed a law allowing faculty and staff to carry concealed guns, only in the event the universities affirmatively allowed it. Guess how many colleges and universities opted in? None. An affirmative move universities did take? They opposed this new bill. One legislator who represents the district that includes the University of Arkansas called this new bill "horrifying," in part because it would include football games and other sporting events. He's got a pretty good reason, too:
"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."
Personally, I think Greg is being a little generous in calling it "ridiculous." I would say it's tantamount to legislative malpractice. The number of fights that occur at sporting events is incalculable, but I'd wager to say that if you've ever been to a game, you've seen one. "If only someone had a gun right now, this would be a whole lot safer," is not something anyone who witnessed two drunks brawl has ever once thought.
Which is to say: this is an objectively bad idea, from a security perspective—the NFL recently declined to allow off-duty cops to conceal carry at stadiums—as well as a simple human one. An adult college football fan put his bare testicles on another adult's face following a rivalry game. People have been stabbed at games, knocked unconscious, beaten to within an inch of their life and left in a coma. Someone will die in Arkansas because of this law, and it's entirely unnecessary. But don't tell the NRA, which had a representative at the bill signing.
"This step goes a long way towards recognizing law-abiding people in this state have the right to defend themselves anywhere they have a legal right to be," Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said at the news conference.
The places you just opened up to chaos are on the record saying they do not want this, that they in fact consider it dangerous and irresponsible. There is literally nothing in the Second Amendment that entitles a person to carrying a gun everywhere he or she goes, but now the default assumption in Arkansas will need to be that everyone in a public setting is lawfully locked and loaded. You never know! Arkansans will no longer live under the fear of getting a ticket for having a gun in public. Now they all they have to do is make it home without getting accidentally shot because two drunk dudes were arguing at a football game.