University to use nearby high school to skirt campus carry

University of Arkansas at Little Rock is attempting to bypass the state's new campus carry law by utilizing its adjacency to a local high school.

According to a report by The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the university is seeking to take advantage of the federal law that prohibits firearms within "1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school.”

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While some universities will also seek to take advantage of the federal law because of bordering high schools, the potential partnership between the UALR and eStem High School would be a unique method of fighting the Arkansas legislation, the newspaper noted.

Moreover, the resulting gun-free zone would also likely bisect several buildings on campus that are not entirely within the 1,000 foot radius.

"We will set the zone as wide as possible to include all buildings being used regularly by eStem students,” John Bacon, the chief executive of eStem Public Charter Schools, told the publication.

"Signs will definitely be posted around the perimeter of the gun-free zone … we are working with UA-Little Rock to determine how best to police the zone, but no decisions have been made yet," he added.

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Others, however, remain unconvinced that move could actually sidestep campus carry legislation.

State Sen. Trent Garner (R) told The Arkansas Project that the individuals licensed to carry firearms under the new law would be exempt to the 1,000 foot restriction.

“I did a cursory search of the applicable law. There’s a pretty clear exception for if a state has a license or exemption on its books and that it’s exempt from that 1,000 foot rule. It’s pretty clear,” he said.

Garner also said that the effort is “disappointing,” adding that he hopes the campus carry law is not “usurped by some loophole.”

“What I think is so disappointing about this whole situation is if I could’ve talked to the U of A leadership or the eStem CEO, I think we could have had a good conversation and maybe discussed some reasonable guidelines that don’t run counter to the law,” he told the publication.

“Instead, I had to read in the paper about how ‘we’re going to make this zone as wide as possible.’ [Seemingly] with the intent to stop people from exercising their Second Amendment rights…that’s troubling to me. I want to make sure after this long, hard fought battle to get this enhanced carry that this isn’t usurped by some loophole that in my opinion doesn’t apply to the situation.”

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