Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will allow those with gun-carry permits and special training to carry in areas that are otherwise designated gun-free zones.
"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 told the Associated Press.
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The law allows those with a gun-carry permit who complete eight hours of active-shooter training to carry in many places where guns are otherwise prohibited. The locations affected by the law include college campuses, churches, athletic events, and government buildings. Private property owners would still be able to prohibit firearms on their property.
The law is slated to take effect on September 1 but gives state police until January of next year to determine the specifics of the training requirements it lays out. Current gun-carry permit holders would have to take the training before they would be eligible to carry in the affected locations.
The law passed despite fierce opposition from some Democrats who were upset with several of the provisions, including the campus-carry rules. "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 told the wire service. "I think the idea of introducing loaded weapons into those situations is just ridiculous."
Gun-rights proponents praised the law and said it would make the state safer.
"Only criminals can find safety in gun-free zones," Chris Cox, head of the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm, said in a statement. "By allowing enhanced permit holders to carry in more places, Gov. Hutchinson has made Arkansas a safer place to live."
Gun-control proponents took the opposite view.
"This legislation will make everyday life in Arkansas more dangerous," Austin Bailey, the Arkansas chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told the AP.