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Senate Overrides Governor's Veto On Gun Sovereignty Bill

Arkansas Senate

It’s now up to the Arkansas House to consider overriding a veto of a bill that would prohibit local police from enforcing federal gun laws in Arkansas. The Senate voted 21-12 Monday to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of Senate Bill 298.

In a letter to lawmakers announcing his veto Friday, the governor said the partnership between state and federal law enforcement is "essential" and breaking that would put the safety of Arkansans at risk.

Hutchinson also said because the bill would make current federal gun laws unenforceable on a state level, it would be "unclear" the impact that would have on current criminal proceedings.

In presenting his motion for an override, Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, said he was working on a separate bill to address some of the concerns Hutchinson raised. 

"I have worked with [former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas] Cody Highland for the last few days in making amendments to the bill in regard to some of the governor’s issues, and regarding those individuals in the state that would give them the opportunity to testify for the federal, so that we make sure that some of these guys that are the baddest of the bad serve a long, long time," Stubblefield said.

Stubblefield filed the new bill, Senate Bill 717, Monday evening, leaving questions on whether it can pass before the legislature adjourns for a recess Tuesday. Lawmakers will reconvene in the fall to address redistricting.

Among the senators against overriding the veto was Senate President Pro Tempore Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana. He claimed Stubblefield broke an agreement between the two concerning the bill, where parts of Stubblefield’s bill would be incorporated into a different bill, and said Stubblefield agreed not to bring the veto up for consideration. 

"This is about those 800 people that we have on trial and we’ve all agreed that since those people are on trial, that if we were to pass this law, that could allow for either the case to be, for evidence to not be presented and that type of stuff and that is why you and I had that agreement this morning," Hickey said. 

The veto override now goes over to the House, where if passed by a simple majority, it will become law.

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