Enhanced permit holders allowed to carry guns on Arkansas college campuses

HARRISON, Ark. - Signs banning guns from North Arkansas College's campus will soon be replaced.

NAC President Dr. Randy Esters said, "What we did this (past) Thursday is we amended the policy, or we changed the policy to allow weapons in compliance with the new laws."

That state law says if you are 21 or older, have a concealed carry license, and get training to get an enhanced carry permit, you can carry a handgun onto college campuses, government buildings and bars.

"It was vetted through legislation. It's the law of the land. It's what we'll comply with," Esters said.

Before the law was passed, colleges voiced their concerns to legislators.

But the bill's sponsors have said they think a potential killer would think twice before going into a school where people are carrying.

And some students at North Arkansas College agree.

Brian Stevens, a former NAC student, said, "I think it's a great idea for everything that's been happening. All the shootings that's been happening over the last few years. Protection is the number one key in today's society because you never know when you're safe or when you're not safe."

Others believe it's an open invitation for violence. with the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida fresh in their minds.

A gunman with an AR-15 shot and killed 17 people.

Jose Gonzalez, a freshman, said, "I think it's a bad idea because it can cause school shootings, just like the one in Florida."

Kaitlyn Fitts, a freshman, said, "They're not supposed to have guns in school. They're sneaking them in. This is allowing us to just carry them in."

Some students, like Gavin Cantwell, a freshman, said they would be open to staff carrying handguns but not fellow students.

"I think it should be a teacher and faculty thing," Cantwell said.

State police have already issued around 20 enhanced carry permits.

Esters said, "Just want to emphasize this does not change: If you don't have the proper permit, it's still no weapons on campus."

North Arkansas College does not have dormitories. But under the new law, students can not store guns in their dorms. They have to keep them within arms reach.