Arkansas

Arkansas Republicans Pressing Gun Deregulation, Despite Losses by Charles Yeganian

Despite losses at both the national level and the defeat of the chief architect of Arkansas’ most pro-gun legislation, state Republicans are planning an aggressive attack on gun regulations in the state. From the AP:

One Republican lawmaker, Rep. Charlie Collins, lost his Fayetteville-area seat to Democrat Denise Garner, a gun-control supporter.

Collins sponsored legislation two years ago that prompted a legislative fight over guns. The bill, known as Act 562, proposed expanding concealed-carry rights onto college campuses and into bars and other public buildings.

The legislation was opposed by Democrats and gun-control advocates, who said Republicans ignored concerns from colleges and law enforcement officials. The bill was approved but lawmakers were later pressured by college athletic associations to walk back some provisions.

John Mortiz of the Arkansas Times-Gazette reports that Democrats are planning their own legisiation.

Atop the list of gun policy priorities for Democrats is legislation that would create an extreme-risk order of protection -- commonly known as a "red flag" law -- that would allow a judge to issue an order to temporarily seize a person's firearms if the person is deemed to be a threat to himself or others.

At least 13 states have red flag legislation, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. In Arkansas, draft language for a bill is being completed by Democratic state Sen. Will Bond, D-Little Rock, and state Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville. (Leding will serve in the Senate starting in January.)

How Two LEAPers Turned GOP "High Ground" Soggy in Arkansas by Charles Yeganian

I wrote last week that Arkansas is Republican high ground. The "blue wave" would have to be a Noah's flood to put this state underwater. This week, let me point out that Northwest Arkansas is the peak of that high ground (with Fayetteville being a kind of spring-fed pond near the top.) Well, it turns out that even high ground can get a little soggy if some rain falls in just the right spot.

Certainly, Denise Garner of Fayetteville's win over incumbent Republican Rep. Charlie Collins was the race Democrats had to win to be taken seriously any more. Collins was the major target. But Collins was the major target because he had baggage. His guns-on-campus bill made him potent enemies. Williams had none. [Megan] Godfrey's win does not include any of Fayetteville either. Her district is pure Springdale.

Garner's win encourages Democrats to challenge vulnerable Republican incumbents. Godfrey's win, however, encourages Democrats to challenge them all.

Garner, a retired nurse practitioner, and Godfrey, an ESL teacher, were both first-time candidates for legislative office, and both ran on strong gun safety platforms, including keeping guns out of the hands of unsafe individuals and out of schools.