In a forceful and decisive show of unanimity against Arkansas Act 226, sponsored by Representative Charlie Collins and which would have allowed faculty & staff with concealed-carry licenses to bring their guns on campus, every public and private college and university in the state of Arkansas has voted to opt out of the law.
To see the complete list of schools opting out of this legislation, see our Facebook page, Arkansans Against Guns on Campus.
This is significant for three reasons.
- The college and university boards that voted this legislation down represent the broadest demographics in the state.From public schools to private schools, from large state universities to smaller community colleges, Arkansans directly affected by Act 226 have spoken out against the legislative actions of the radical gun lobbies and the legislators they sponsor.
- The unanimous decision to opt out of Act 226 provides clear evidence that the powerful gun lobbies can be successfully resisted. While Arkansans have no centralized and well funded gun-control lobby to match the prowess of organizations like the NRA, we have developed smaller and dedicated organizations, blogs, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages that united overnight around this common cause. These actions should provide hope for the future, as we move forward committed to maintaining the safe campuses that have long distinguished Arkansas higher education.
- It is also our sincere hope that the legislators who sponsored this bill will realize that top-down legislation of this sort, in the face of stringent public opposition by the afffected constituencies, creates an unnecessary divisiveness within the state.Arkansas, like many states in the region, confronts complex and genuinely partisan issues. To force our institutions of higher education to consider every year an Act that they have resisted from the beginning, and now resisted unanimously, is a waste both of our resources and our time.
We hope, in fact, that our successful resistance to Act 226 will serve as a model to other institutions who face similar legislation.
Lucrative PAC's, well-oiled DC lobbies, wealthy contributors from outside of the state whose children will most likely not attend our schools—these forces represent substantial opponents, but Arkansas has now joined the ranks of those similarly under-funded coalitions and organizations around the country—and there are many of them, and their numbers are growing—that have relied on the will of the people to craft a voice in opposition to gun violence.
We believe that our successful resistance is part of a larger, growing consensus around the country, and we further feel that our victory here in Arkansas derives in part from the support and advice that we received from organizations in other states that have been struggling against gun violence for years.
Together, we feel confident that our progress will be steady and sure. A consensus has emerged, and we here in Arkansas are happy to be a part of it.