Last week, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed into law a bill that would have allowed state residents to carry concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and the state capitol building, so long as they complete eight hours of active-shooter training. This included the stadiums where the University of Arkansas plays football and basketball, among other sports.
Nearly everyone except the National Rifle Association thought the idea to mix guns with tailgating fans was perhaps ill-advised. That included Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, who said that in-stadium concealed carry was a horrible idea “given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events,” and Arkansas football Coach Bret Bielema, who said he might have trouble telling recruits that he cared about their safety when some of their own fans were perhaps armed.
And so, with the opposition of a person who likely has the power to banish the Razorbacks to Conference USA plus the state’s highest-paid public employee fresh in their minds, legislators in Arkansas approved an amendment Thursday that would exempt stadiums from the state’s broadened concealed-carry allowances.
Some of the lawmakers seemed a little conflicted about the whole thing.
“If we vote one way, we make the entire Razorback nation mad,” said Rep. Jimmy Gazaway, a Republican who voted against the stadium ban. “If we vote the other way, we make the NRA and the people who support the Second Amendment mad.”
Rep. Charlie Collins, a Republican who was the chief sponsor of the original bill, said he was less wary of the new amendment after he was promised that “sniper teams” would protect fans at Arkansas sporting events. A University of Arkansas spokesman told Arkansas Online that the school’s police force does not use that term, instead preferring “spotters.”
The amendment also would ban guns from state-sponsored day-care centers.