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Arkansas Colleges Reject Concealed Carry On Campus Under Loosened Gun Law

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A police officer stands guard outside Cole Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., in 2008, when four people were killed. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Getty

A growing number of colleges in Arkansas are opting to reject a new law that would allow guns on campuses, reaffirming the division between pro-gun lawmakers and the large majority of the higher education world.

The Republican-controlled state legislature passed a bill in February, signed into law by Gov. Mike Beebe (D), that allows colleges and universities to decide for themselves whether to allow concealed weapons. The bill reversed a campus gun ban and aligns Arkansas with 23 other states allowing each campus to set concealed carry policies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The University of Arkansas and the Arkansas State University systems voted in May to keep their campuses gun-free.

Southern Arkansas University last week opted not to allow concealed carry, bringing to 15 the number of schools choosing not to allow guns on campus, The Associated Press reports. Arkansas Northeastern College decided a day earlier to prohibit concealed carry on campus, although the Blytheville Courier News reports the school will allow guns in locked vehicles belonging to students or staff.

No Arkansas schools have decided to permit concealed carrying of firearms on their campuses.

A total of 25 two- and four-year schools in the states of Colorado, Utah, Virginia and Michigan currently allow concealed carrying of guns on campus, according to the advocacy group Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. The U.S. has about 4,300 colleges and universities.

The Arkansas law requires colleges to revisit their policy every year if they decide to prohibit concealed carry on campus.

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