Arkansas college police concerned about campus gun safety


LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas college administrators say guns haven't caused any notable problems since being allowed on school grounds, but some lawmakers and police are still concerned about campus safety.

The college semester currently finishing up is the first since state firearms instructors began offering courses for new enhanced concealed-carry licenses. The permits result from a law passed last year and allow guns at public colleges and other public places previously off limits.

Administrators from a handful of higher education institutions around the state, including the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University, said Thursday that firearms on campus haven't been problematic since being permitted, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . Students and faculty are attending universities' seminars on the new law, they said.

"We have not seen an issue yet on campus — I'm gonna knock on some wood here," said Capt. Chris Bentley of the University of Central Arkansas Police Department.

But some campus law enforcement officials and lawmakers are still concerned about the pitfalls of allowing guns at universities and inside dorm rooms.

A permitted gun carrier who becomes upset could create an active shooter situation, said Maxcie Thomas, police chief at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Authorities may also have a hard time distinguishing between an active shooter threat and a gun-carrying resident in an emergency situation.

Having licensed firearm carriers on campus could be beneficial in the event of a shooting because they'd be on-hand before police arrive, said Johnny Campbell, police chief at Henderson State University.

Democratic Rep. Greg Leding of Fayetteville said he plans to propose legislation next year to change rules on guns in dorms. Current policy allows for guns to be carried in dorms, but not stored. Permit holders must keep their guns within an arm's reach at all times, including when they go to the restroom.

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