Arkansas fears SEC membership in jeopardy with new gun law

Would you want to play SEC football in front of rowdy fans who are carrying guns?

Arkansas' controversial gun law has its flagship university questioning whether its membership in one of the most lucrative athletic conferences in the country might be in jeopardy.

According to a report from Arkansas sportscaster Bo Mattingly, sources within the Razorbacks' athletics department fear House Bill 1249 could affectits membership in the Southeastern Conference if not amended by the state's House of Representatives.

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The law, signed by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 22, will allowpeople to carry concealed handguns on publicly owned land —including college sports venues — if they complete an eight-hour training course designed by state police.The Arkansas Senateadded an amendment Thursday, specifying that college sporting events be exempt from the law. The Arkansas House has not yet passed it.

While the SEC has not said the law will affect the Razorbacks' membership, conference commissioner Greg Sankey on Tuesday released a statement calling for Arkansas' sporting events to be exempted.

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Arkansas state Rep. Charlie Collins, who sponsored the bill, said he introduced it as a means for students to protect themselves from school shooters.

“I understand we’re breaking new ground in general with (the bill)," Collins told Mattingly on his radio show, "SportsTalk With Bo." "I understand a subject like guns or snakes or spiders is very emotional, but I am optimistic we’ll be able to balance this so that we can move forward and not risk some kind of a conflict with our sports programs that no one expects to do.”

The law is set to go into effect on Sept. 1 — just in time for football season — but could be pushed back to January to allow state police to design the trainingprogram.

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