Another concern is being raised about legislation that would require public universities and colleges in Arkansas to allow licensed faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus.
John Pijanowski, chair of the campus faculty senate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, believes the campus carry bill could be in conflict with existing laws regarding guns in churches.
“If you’re moving across a place of worship or into a place of worship that’s on a college campus, is it the Church Protection Act that allows that place of worship the opportunity to decide whether guns are allowed there or not or is it the Campus Carry Bill that we should be following?” Pijanowski asks.
The Church Protection Act, signed into law in 2013 by Governor Mike Beebe, grants individual churches the choice to allow concealed handguns. Current law permits public universities the same option.
Republican Representative Charlie Collins of Fayetteville is sponsor of the Campus Carry Bill. He believes existing concealed carry laws address any potential conflicts.
“The intent of the bill is not to rewrite laws for bars, sports arenas, churches, or any other arena. It’s only focused on the campus in general, not the specifics of other areas that are covered in other places,” says Collins.
John DiPippa, Dean Emeritus of the University of Arkansas Bowen School of Law in Little Rock says, even in places that are designated for shared use, “I don’t really see a situation where it would be that difficult to decide which law applied.”
The bill is scheduled to be considered by a Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.