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Arkansas rethinks new law that allows guns at sports games

By Steve Barnes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - A day after Arkansas enacted a law allowing licensed concealed handgun holders to take weapons into more places, the state Senate on Thursday approved rolling back part of the provision that allowed concealed handguns at sporting events.

Some critics of the current law said the combination of college sports, alcohol and firearms could make for a deadly combination. The also noted that the University of Arkansas prohibits beach balls, baby strollers and umbrellas at athletic events due to safety concerns.

The original measure that passed easily in the Republican-dominated legislature was signed into law by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson. It also allows individuals with concealed-carry permits and additional training to carry firearms into almost all public facilities, including college campuses, the state Capitol and stores.

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Its few exemptions included courtrooms and public schools.

Backers said the law should stand as written.

"We are treating people exercising their Second Amendment rights like they are criminals," Republican state Senator Trent Garner, said in the chamber.

The follow-up legislation ratified on Thursday by the state Senate and endorsed by the governor would also ban guns at the state mental hospital and the sprawling University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences complex.

The measure next heads to the state House of Representatives.

(Reporting by Steve Baarnes; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)