How have the concealed carry laws changed for public universities?
During the 2017 regular legislative session, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 562, commonly referred to as “campus carry.” Act 562 allows individuals with concealed handgun permits to carry concealed handguns on college campuses if they have successfully completed an additional enhanced certification-training course of up to 8 hours.
When do the changes become effective?
Acts 562 and 859 take effect on Sept. 1, 2017. However, the law requires the Arkansas State Police to develop and communicate rules for enhanced certification training that must be completed by individuals seeking to carry a handgun on campus. The State Police must complete the rulemaking process within 120 days of the September 1 effective date, so the actual date upon which individuals will be able to carry a concealed handgun on campus will depend on when the State Police complete this process.
What does “concealed handgun” mean?
A handgun must be covered from observation so as to prevent public view. In other words, concealed carry licensees shall not carry a handgun openly or in any other manner in which the handgun is visible to ordinary observation by a reasonable person or in public view.
Are handguns the only type of firearm to which campus carry applies?
Yes. Act 562 authorizes individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry a concealed handgun provided all the enhanced certification training has been successfully completed. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-309 defines a handgun as “any firearm, other than a fully automatic firearm, with a barrel length of less than twelve inches (12”) that is designed, made, or adapted to be fired with one (1) hand.”
Will there be any limitations regarding when and where a person who has the enhanced training may carry a concealed handgun?
Yes. The new laws prohibit an individual from carrying a handgun into grievance and disciplinary meetings conducted in accordance with university procedures and lasting no more than 9 hours provided (a) the meeting is held in a room that is “no larger than necessary to complete the meeting;” (b) the individual is given at least 24 hours notice of the meeting; and (c) a notice is posted on the door in which the meeting is being held that possession of a handgun is prohibited.
Eligibility to Carry on Campus
May anyone carry a handgun on an Arkansas public university campus when the new laws take effect?
No. Campus carry is limited to individuals who have been issued a concealed handgun license and who complete enhanced certification training of up to 8 hours developed by the Arkansas State Police as required by Act 562.
Will university faculty and staff be allowed to carry a concealed handgun?
Generally, yes, provided the faculty or staff member has obtained the required concealed handgun license, and has successfully completed the requisite enhanced certification training. However, Act 562 specifies that unless an employee is required to carry a firearm as part of the employee’s specific job duties (i.e., Police Officer), any possession or use of a firearm by the employee is not considered to be within the scope of employment with the university. As such, any employee who chooses to possess or use a firearm is acting in the employee’s individual capacity and not as an agent of the university, and is not immune from personal liability with respect to possession or use of the handgun. If the employee is injured by his or her own negligence in possessing or using a handgun in the workplace, he or she will not be entitled to worker’s compensation. Additionally, employees who decide to carry a concealed handgun must plan appropriately for its legal storage. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-306 (13)(B)(v) specifies that storage of concealed handgun is allowed in a locked and unattended motor vehicle in a publicly owned and maintained parking lot.
What is the penalty for individuals who bring a concealed handgun to the campus without being properly licensed or carry a concealed handgun into a prohibited area?
There are criminal penalties for violating the campus carry law. Violations of the campus carry law may, for employees, result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination, and for students, result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the university.
I’m a concealed carry holder in another state, will I be allowed to carry my gun on campus?
No. Only concealed carry holders licensed in the State of Arkansas, who complete the additional enhanced certification training, will be allowed to carry on campus.
Locations and Storage
Are handguns permitted to be brought or stored in university owned or operated student dormitories or residence halls?
Concealed handguns will be permitted in university owned or operated student dormitories or residence halls or housing by individuals with the requisite certifications and endorsements, but Act 562 specifies that storage will not be allowed in university or college-operated student dormitory or residence hall. For purposes of the Act, residence halls include any university owned or operated housing, including university owned fraternity and sorority housing.
May a resident of a dorm or residence hall prohibit a guest from carrying a concealed weapon into his or her room?
Where does a weapon need to be in order to be legally considered “concealed?” Can a weapon be in a backpack or purse, or does it need to be directly on a person’s body or within reaching distance of the person?
Neither Act 562 or 859 expressly states where a handgun must be in order to be considered “concealed.” The handgun cannot be in plain view or discernable by ordinary observation. Further, the handgun must be on the license holder’s person or in close proximity (as to be readily accessible).
What responsibility does a concealed handgun licensee have to keep his or her weapon concealed? Is the licensee violating the terms of the permit if someone gets a glimpse of the licensee’s handgun?
A person with a license to carry a concealed handgun must conceal the weapon. A violation would occur when a person knowingly and intentionally displays the handgun in plain view of another person. If a person’s coat opens in the act of raising his or her arm to ask a question, for example, and a handgun can be seen, it is not a violation.
How will the university manage someone who has a gun and is exhibiting threatening behavior?
It is a criminal act to exhibit threatening behavior with a gun, regardless of the individual’s concealed carry permit status. When a crime is committed on campus, police officers or local law enforcement will respond and take appropriate action. Additionally, if the individual is an employee or student, the university will also take appropriate disciplinary action.
May a police officer ask an individual to display their concealed carry license?
Yes. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-315 (b)(2) requires a licensee to display their license if asked by law enforcement.
Does a law enforcement officer have the right to disarm an individual?
Yes. If a law enforcement officer reasonably believes a safety risk exists, the officer may disarm an individual.
Will students, faculty and staff members who have a license to carry a concealed handgun and who have successfully completed the enhanced training be required to register with campus security/police departments?
Will the university provide employees or students with safety training on how to properly use a handgun?
No. Concealed carry licensees are required to complete mandatory safety courses to acquire concealed carry licenses, and they will be required to complete up to 8 hours of enhanced certification training provided by the Arkansas State Police before being authorized to carry on a campus.
What should I do if someone takes a handgun out of a backpack or briefcase?
Students, staff members, faculty members and visitors may not display a handgun on University of Arkansas System campuses. Handguns must be concealed at all times, barring life-threatening emergencies. If you observe someone displaying a handgun on campus, it should be reported to campus police or security.
May I use my weapon as a means of defense if there are shots being fired?
A handgun may be used in self-defense only as allowed by Arkansas law. By so doing, the person is acting as a private citizen and not as an authorized agent of the university.
What should I do if I see a handgun on campus and feel threatened?
If you see someone carrying a handgun on campus and feel threatened, you should contact campus police or security. The law prohibits the visible display of handguns.
May I ask someone if they have a concealed carry permit?
Yes, but the individual being asked has no obligation to answer. An individual with a concealed carry permit who has completed the additional enhanced certification training under Act 562 is not required to reveal their permit status unless asked by a law enforcement officer in accordance with Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-315. No action may be taken against an employee or student because of their status as a concealed carry permit holder.
May a student carry a handgun to a meeting with a professor or staff member? May an employee carry a handgun to a meeting with a staff member or supervisor?
Generally, yes, provided the student or employee (a) is age 21 or over and has a concealed carry license and (b) has successfully completed the enhanced certification training. However, neither a student nor an employee is permitted to carry a concealed handgun into a location where an official meeting is being conducted in accordance with documented grievance and disciplinary procedures as established by the university, provided that certain other requirements are met (see answer to No. 6).
May a student who legally possesses a concealed handgun be excluded from the classroom or a university office on the grounds that the student’s presence and his or her concealed weapon constitute a class disruption?
No. The mere act of carrying a concealed handgun (with a license and enhanced training as authorized by law) is not in and of itself a disruption of class activity or other university operations. Likewise, another person’s adverse reaction to someone carrying a handgun in accordance with Arkansas law is not grounds to eject a licensee from the classroom.
Can a supervisor request a list of employees who have a concealed carry permit?
No. This information is not a matter of public record under Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105 (19).