The Arkansas legislature is at it again. Putting self interests ahead of the people of Arkansas. This has been a common theme since Republicans took over both houses, but this year it has ramped up.
Senator Rupert has tried to get bills passed to undermine the Arkansas electorate several times in this session. In this case he does not like marijuana and does not think anyone should have access to it. He even went so far as stating that until marijuana is a legal drug federally medical marijuana should not be legal in Arkansas. Naturally he believes that Arkansas state law of one man, one woman should supersede federal law. However, that is another subject.
What this article is about is how the legislature just showed the Arkansas people where they sit in the eyes of the people in Little Rock, and it is really low on the totem pole.
The Opt-out mistake
Several years ago the state legislature made it legal to carry guns in most places in Arkansas. But, there was an opt-out clause for the state’s colleges and universities. This opt-out clause gave each school the ability to ban guns on their campuses. Every college and university in the state opted out of the law. Let me repeat that. Every college and university.
The reason that the opt-out clause was inserted into the original bill was due to the fact that there were simply more Democrats in the legislature.
Republicans were burned by this clause because they did not believe that any college would opt out.
The fix is in
For this year’s session Republicans saw the opening they needed. Both houses are primarily Republican as the Democratic Party has essentially collapsed in state (and across the country). There are still some strong Democrats in the state, mind you, but they are definitely in the small minority. Republicans passed with ease a new gun law that required all colleges, universities, schools, churches, and bars (yes bars) to allow guns on their campuses and/or in their establishments.
All the colleges and universities fought against this bill. The police unions in the state also came out against the bill as unneeded. The bill passed the House and Senate with no hurdles and the governor signed it with no qualms.
Just a little aside on this: in the Wild West (where a lot of these Republicans envision themselves) guns were allowed nowhere in town, by law, and it was enforced with no exceptions.
The sports got involved
Shortly after the bill became law it was noticed that because the law was so vaguely written (not at all surprising) the legislature made it law that people could carry guns inside of sports venues. This includes all Arkansas Razorback home games (football, baseball, basketball, track, etc). There is just one major issue with this. The Southeastern Conference (in which the Razorbacks play conference games) has a very strict no gun policy for all of their venues.
No threat has been made by the SEC but rumors are swirling that unless the law is changed the SEC may force the Razorbacks out of the conference. And this just cannot happen.
Since that news broke, legislators in Little Rock quickly got to work to get another new law passed that would exempt college and university sports venues.
What this shows is that the Arkansas legislature did not care that people did not want this law. They did not care that colleges and universities did not like this law. And they did not care that police unions did not like this law. What they did care was that this law could potentially have negative affects on the sports world.
And really that is all that matters to them.