LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said clearly that he will not consider any gun reform laws if he calls a special session following several deadly mass shootings in the United States.
Hutchinson held a "pen and pad" press conference Thursday with reporters to discuss several issues including school safety and mental health issues.
The governor said he discussed with legislators about school safety and security being an agenda item if he were to call a special session this summer.
He said he planned to address safety in schools even before the shooting in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers were killed by a gunman at an elementary school.
A 2018 commission he created to look at the issue recommended more counseling, improving physical security, and an "increasing the number of armed presence." He has asked the commission to reconvene and recommend further changes for schools.
Hutchinson said gun reform will not be a focus during any session that will be called.
"Whenever you look at the other issues that you speak about and that is access to firearms in our society, that's not going to change no matter what law we pass," Hutchinson claimed.
In an interview on CBS, the governor said there could be bipartisan support to work on gun laws considering raising the age limit to 21 to buy AR-15s and other similar guns.
Hutchinson said "we need to have some patience" as a bipartisan group of United State senators look at potential solutions.
He said the group would be looking at background checks and that they are looking for "common ground."
If a special session is called, it would also look at additional tax relief for Arkansans. Hutchinson cited the ongoing inflation as well as gas prices and food costs.
The governor did not provide an exact date of when the session would be called, but he said it could be in July or August.
Hutchinson proposed a grant Thursday from surplus tax funds in the neighborhood of $50 million, one that's similar to a grant that Uvalde schools received 2 years ago from the Texas government.
That grant was also geared towards general school safety following a separate school shooting.
As far as Arkansas, Hutchinson spoke about how this grant could help ensure safety in schools.
"Well I mean, every plan that you have is subject to human error. That's why you have to build in checks and balances and layered security. We're still learning about what happened in Uvalde. So let's wait. More facts will come to the table."
On the subject of running for president in 2024, Hutchinson said he is doing "some testing the waters" and that he was "concerned about the direction of our country."
We will update this article with more information as it becomes available.