ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (KTHV) Guns are now legal in church and could soon be legal on Arkansas college campuses. The House of Representatives passed Bill 1243 on Friday and it is now headed to the Senate for a vote. This bill basically gives both private and public colleges the option to allow employees to carry concealed handguns.
"We have a very strong police presence 24 hours a day as well as a good relationship with the Arkadelphia Police Department, Clark County Sheriff's Department and the Arkansas State Police for backup if additional manpower is indeed needed," said Vice President of Student and External Affairs Lewis Shepherd at Henderson State University.
At Henderson State, Shepherd says six heavily-trained officers provide security for more than 3,000 students.
Across the street at Ouachita Baptist University, Vice President for Communications Trennis Henderson says their security officers are unarmed and no matter the outcome of House Bill 1243, the private university will remain a gun-free zone.
"With our policy that prohibits firearms on campus has worked effectively in this setting. So, we would anticipate just going on status quo, business as usual," said Trennis Henderson.
OBU student Jordan Stewart supports this bill, which he believes could save a lot of lives.
"People who are going to break the law are going to break the law no matter what so if they are going to have a gun on campus, then there will be nobody to protect against that," said Stewart.
House Bill 1243 gives all universities the opportunity to opt out of the concealed carry policy. Governor Mike Beebe says if it reaches his desk, he will most likely sign it into law.