This was originally published online Feb. 15, 2017, but it was intended as a brief speech. A bill introduced into the state legislature this year by Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) alters public college campus carry laws. Before the bill (HB1249), colleges could choose whether or not they allowed faculty to utilize concealed carry. HB1249 made allowance of faculty CCLs mandatory. It was- and still is- a highly controversial piece of legislation. I attended several events regarding it, including a town hall hosted at the University of Central Arkansas where I recorded speeches given to collect information on the law. I then attended the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the matter, both to gather information and witness it first-hand so I could accurately report on it, but also to testify against it. Time ran out before I could voice my opinion, so I posted the speech transcript as a column.
My name is Julia Nall. I’m a senior at Bryant High School, I’ll be attending the University of Arkansas in the fall, and am the daughter of a teacher at University of Central Arkansas.
I’m here today on behalf the underclassmen in my Young Democrats chapter who are having to re-evaluate their college choices because of this bill. I am here on behalf of my future classmates. And I am here on behalf of my mother.
A a member of a relatively rural community, I understand the argument for gun rights in regards to public safety.
This a threat to the safety and security of the schools and communities, and it is offensive to suggest that legislators know more about the safety of students than the dedicated administrators, professors, and law enforcement who serve them every day. I trust my future institution and their law enforcement more than that. I’d hope you would too. I have a hard time believing that the introduction of this bill is respectful to the universities and their wishes, especially considering that all but one school in Arkansas opposes this. I have a hard time believing this isn’t a purely political move motivated by the NRA.
More importantly, I’m concerned about my mom.
She teaches composition at the University of Central Arkansas. If this bill were to pass and there was an active shooter on campus, they would first go after who they would assume to be potentially armed- in this case, my mother.
I don’t think the slim potential of slightly increased possible security based on outdated research is worth the risk of losing my mother. I don’t know that much of anything is worth that risk.
Thank you for your time.
The column received quite a bit of attention on social media. I sent it to Rep. Collins and we then talked through various issues I had with the bill, and he provided a lot of information to me. This is an issue that’s still unfolding. The committee approved it at the hearing, and it passed in the Senate less than two hours later. However, Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has vocally opposed the bill, managed to amend it on the Senate floor, thereby sending it back to the House. I’m keeping all of my records from this process so that I can do an in-depth, evaluative look back at the bill, whatever the outcome might be.