Guns in Arkansas

Forrest City Walmart shooting
KATV-Channel 7

Two police officers were wounded and a gunman was killed Monday morning in an exchange of gunfire at a Walmart store in Forrest City in eastern Arkansas, authorities said.

Forrest City Police Chief Deon Lee said one of the officers was taken to a hospital about 45 miles to the east in Memphis where he was in surgery, and the initial prognosis is “he’s going to be OK.”

A parent-led booster club supporting an Arkansas school district that was the site of a 1998 shooting is drawing criticism for its plans to auction off an AR-15 rifle.

The fundraiser is to raise money so Westside High School's band can go to Florida for a performance.

In 1998, four students and one teacher were killed when two students, then ages 11 and 13, opened fire at Westside Middle School near Jonesboro. One shooter, Andrew Golden, later changed his name to Drew Grant and died in a car crash earlier this summer.

Walmart says it will discontinue the sale of handgun ammunition and also publicly request that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in stores even where state laws allow it.

The announcement comes just days after a mass shooting claimed seven lives in Odessa, Texas and follows two other back-to-back shootings last month, one of them at a Walmart store.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Law enforcement and education officials from around the state are meeting in North Little Rock this week to discuss best practices for improving school security.

The 14th annual Arkansas Safe Schools Conference comes one week after the Arkansas School Safety Commission released its preliminary report on how to thwart and respond to threats of school violence.

Guns
Jacqueline Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

Five months after the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, a voter-approved ballot initiative, officially took effect, laws regarding handguns have been greatly expanded in Arkansas. But gun owners who register as medical marijuana patients are federally prohibited from purchasing or owning a gun.

On a recent morning, a lone silver-haired man practiced shooting his semi-automatic handgun inside a Tontitown gun range. He slowly fired off a round of bullets, stoped to study his target, a paper human silhouette in the distance riddled with holes, reloaded and took aim again.

guns in schools
flickr.com

Threats of gun violence have resulted in arrests at a handful of Arkansas schools in the days following a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

School district officials in Fayetteville and Gurdon said local police are investigating both online and verbal threats of violence reported to school administration. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported schools in Berryville, Mammoth Spring and Star City saw similar threats since the Feb. 14 mass shooting and reported them to police.

Trent Garner
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas lawmaker says he won't push for a measure easing a requirement for concealed handgun trainers during this year's session after the governor said he supports delaying the mandate's deadline so the issue can be addressed later.

Republican Sen. Trent Garner said Thursday he'll drop his proposal removing the requirement that concealed carry instructors offer both the regular training and the enhanced training under an expanded concealed handgun law approved last year.

  

In December, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a memorandum to Col. Bill Bryant, director of Arkansas State Police as well as to state prosecutors declaring that the open carry of a handguns is protected by law and allowed, except for unlawful use and in certain restricted places. The governor wrote that the purpose of his guidance was to resolve confusion regarding the state’s gun possession law, amended five years ago.

The statute, as written, however remains open to interpretation.

Robinson Center
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Beginning this weekend all people attending live, ticketed performances at venues owned by the city of Little Rock will have to go through metal detectors. Those venues include Robinson Center Music Hall, First Security Amphitheater and the Statehouse Convention Center.

Efforts to improve safety at large gatherings like concerts were stepped up after October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas where a gunman firing down from a hotel room at a country music festival killed 58 people and injured more than 800.

State lawmakers took a step toward enhanced concealed carry on college campuses Friday in spite of some pushback from firearm trainers who don’t want to be required to teach the new class for compensation they say is too low.

 

State Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) was among the majority of lawmakers who voted to approve the plan anyway.

“You know, when this is done, there will be less gun-free zones which are soft targets in Arkansas. There will be more people, carrying in more places, being able to protect themselves and others in more places when this rule is implemented. That’s called liberty,” he said at Friday’s legislative council meeting.

Jan Morgan in a photo posted to Facebook on August 18.
Facebook

A gun rights advocate who once declared her firing range "Muslim-free" says she's exploring challenging Arkansas' governor in the state's Republican primary next year.

Jan Morgan said Tuesday she's forming an exploratory committee and will travel around Arkansas as she considers whether to run against Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson next year. Hutchinson announced in May that he was seeking a second term.

Power Bar and Ultra Lounge Mass Shooting
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

One of 28 people injured when gunfire erupted during a concert at a Little Rock nightclub last month has sued the club's manager and the owner of the building where it occurred.

An attorney for Patrick Hardy filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Herman Lewis. Lewis manages the Power Ultra Lounge where the July 1 shooting occurred during a performance by Ricky Hampton, a rapper who goes by the name Finese2Tymes. The lawsuit also names 6th and Center LLC, which owns the building where the shooting occurred.

This is press release from Jonesboro Attorney Bobby McDaniel: 

A judge in northeast Arkansas has awarded $150 million in a civil lawsuit to the families of five people who were fatally shot outside an Arkansas school in 1998.

The families' attorney, Bobby McDaniel, says they probably won't ever see the money, but hopes the Monday ruling will prevent Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson from profiting from the shooting.

Golden and Johnson set off a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro and shot at people as they evacuated the school.

Daisy Outdoor Products / Daisy Outdoor Products

Young marksmen from across the country will gather in Arkansas this weekend to compete for the title of National BB Gun Champion.

The Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match is expected to draw competitors from 17 states to Rogers– where the company is headquartered. Lawrence Taylor, spokesman for Daisy Outdoor Products, says BB guns are a safe way to introduce young children to guns.

UAMS campus carry guns
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Ahead of a new law taking effect in September that expands places where people can carry firearms, schools that want to prohibit concealed handguns are working with state police to get exemptions.

Institutions seeking to ban concealed weapons from certain areas and events must send a security plan to be approved by Arkansas State Police.

The plan calls for schools to have enhanced security measures in place should they choose to opt out of the bill. One institution seeking to restrict concealed carry is the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

The Arkansas Senate has voted to exempt college sporting events from a new law greatly expanding where concealed handguns are allowed, moving quickly to address concerns that the sweeping gun rights measure would lead to armed spectators at stadiums and arenas.

Charlie Collins
www.arkansashouse.org

An Arkansas House committee has advanced revised legislation to greatly expand the carrying of concealed firearms in the state, but not before getting flak Tuesday from opponents of the bill, as well as gun rights supporters.

The original legislation approved by the House last month was limited to college campuses, but the Senate modified the bill to also allow guns at some government buildings, including the state Capitol, and private establishments like bars and restaurants.

Trent Garner
Arkansas Times

An Arkansas lawmaker sponsoring legislation to allow concealed handguns at colleges is holding off on a compromise proposal that would have included age and training limits to carry on campus.

Republican Sen. Trent Garner said Monday he's deferring a proposal that would have allowed anyone with a concealed handgun 25 and older to carry if they undergo up to 16 hours of active shooter training. Garner said he'll support an alternative bill filed last week that would allow anyone with a license to carry on campus.

The Arkansas Senate voted Thursday to require college and university employees who want to carry concealed handguns on campus to first undergo additional training, prompting a Republican lawmaker to expand the campus-carry proposal to allow some students and visitors to participate.

The Senate voted 22-10 to add a provision mandating 16 hours of active shooter training to a House-backed measure requiring the schools to allow faculty and staff with a license to carry a concealed firearm on campus. The Senate is expected to vote next week on the proposal. 

Rep. Charlie Collins
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

An Arkansas House panel has advanced a proposal requiring colleges and universities to allow concealed handguns on campus, despite complaints from school administrators and police.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday endorsed by a 12-5 vote the proposal to require public colleges and universities to allow faculty and staff to carry the concealed weapons. A 2013 law leaves the decision up to the schools, but so far none have opted to allow guns. The proposal now heads to the House for a vote.

www.psychologicalscience.org

The chancellor of the University of Arkansas flagship campus in Fayetteville is opposing a bill that would require public universities to allow staff members to carry concealed handguns.

Now, colleges and universities in Arkansas can choose whether to allow staff members with concealed-carry permits to carry the weapons on campus, but all of the state's public universities have opted not to.

A bill filed Monday by Rep. Charlie Collins of Fayetteville would eliminate the ability for public universities to opt out in most cases. Collins has said the measure is aimed at preventing mass shootings.

Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz said in a statement Tuesday that UA agrees with the current law that allows schools to opt out. He says university police do not believe that Collins' measure would make campus safer.

Arkansas Guns
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas is the nation’s fifth most dependent state on the gun industry, and the most dependent in the South, according to WalletHub, a personal finance website.

The company’s analysts studied the gun industry in each state and the District of Columbia to determine which states depend the most on it for jobs, have the highest gun ownership, and make the most gun-related political contributions.

An executive order that supporters say will stem gun violence in the country was characterized Tuesday by members of the state’s congressional delegation as a power grab.

In a speech at the White House on Tuesday, President Barack Obama (D) said the issue was about protecting people in a violent world.

Governor asa hutchinson talk business & politics
Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson urged school board members to “ask the right questions on security” Friday, saying that parents must be confident their children are safe in order for schools to excel.

“Let me tell you: In this world today, a concentration on security and safety in the schools is paramount,” he said at the Arkansas School Boards Association’s Annual Conference. “If parents cannot have confidence in the school district and its security plan, then they’re not going to have comfort in terms of the quality of education. It starts with safety at the schools.”

Brad Bartelt and his girlfriend Connie Hampton, who has been arrested on a weapons charge.
CRAIGHEAD COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE

The man accused of prompting a lockdown at Arkansas State University by bringing a shotgun on campus has now been formally charged. Meanwhile authorities Friday released new details of the incident.

A Craighead County judge set bond at $50,000 cash for Brad Kenneth Bartelt. The Jonesboro man was charged with aggravated assault, terrorist threats, criminal possession of explosive material and carrying a firearm in a publicly owned facility.

Countycourthouse.com

The man accused of causing a lockdown at Arkansas State University has his first court appearance set for Friday afternoon.

Jonesboro police spokesman Paul Holmes says the suspect, 47-year-old Brad Kenneth Bartelt, will appear via video link from the Craighead County jail for a probable cause hearing at 1 p.m. Friday.

Bartelt is being held on a preliminary charge of aggravated assault for the Thursday incident, but Holmes says he could face more charges.

ASU standoff
KATV, Channel 7 News

After a panicked situation that had authorities fearing they were dealing with an active shooter, a suspect is in custody facing charges and a mental evaluation.  47-year-old Brad Kenneth Bartelt drove his pickup onto a lawn at Arkansas State University at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday while displaying a shotgun, police said. 

The Faulkner County Quorum Court has unanimously approved an ordinance allowing elected officials and county employees with concealed carry permits to bring weapons on some county properties.

The Log Cabin Democrat reports that the ordinance states that the licensee is still prohibited from carrying a weapon in a detention facility, the Faulkner County Justice Building, a sheriff's department office or any courtroom without permission from the presiding judge.

Bald Knob Police Chief Erek Balentine Truck
KATV, Channel 7 News

Arkansas State Police are now investigating the burning of former Bald Knob Police Chief Erek Balentine's pickup truck.

State Police spokesman Bill Sadler told The Daily Citizen that the agency agreed to the investigation requested by Prosecuting Attorney Becky Reed McCoy.

Balentine found his truck on fire the night of Sept. 14 with the words "2 Amendment" spray-painted on the truck. The fire came after the arrest and conviction of a Bald Knob man for disorderly conduct and carrying a weapon.

Balentine resigned Oct. 5 saying he wanted to protect his family.

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