LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — More than 70 instructors in Arkansas are now eligible to teach a new "enhanced" concealed-carry curriculum that would allow gun owners to carry weapons in previously gun-free locations.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday on Twitter that the first instructors were made eligible to offer the enhanced training after taking tests last week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
The change came after lawmakers passed legislation last year that would let gun owners bring firearms into some establishments as long as they have an enhanced license received after eight hours of special training, two of which include live-fire shooting.
Two instructors said Wednesday they plan to begin offering the training session next week. The class will let concealed-carry licensees apply for enhanced permits the same day of training.
The permits allow guns in many public places that had previously banned firearms, including bars, college campuses and the state Capitol. Some of those locations have already begun creating plans to accommodate armed citizens.
"We don't know when the first permit holder will arrive on campus with a concealed handgun," said Mark Rushing, spokesman for the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. "Our message is (the law) is fully implemented."
Chris Powell, a spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, declined to say how Capitol police would screen for concealed weapons or whether there were specific areas of the building that will remain off limits. The building has metal detectors but those with Capitol identification badges can skip going through them.
Private establishments where concealed guns will soon be allowed, such as bars and churches, may still prohibit weapons but must give written or verbal warnings to carriers of such rules. Dennis Lee, chancellor for administrator affairs at the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, said guns will still be banned in the area's Roman Catholic churches.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com