Gov. Asa Hutchinson today signed an executive order to create the Arkansas School Safety Commission, which will produce two reports — the first due Jul. 1 and the second Nov. 30—- to look at mental health, school security plans and how schools partner with local law enforcement.

It will NOT look at the tool of the violent events, specifically the school massacre in Florida, that gave rise to today’s election season press event. “This is not a gun control commission,” Hutchinson told reporters.


He also gave $300,000 to the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) to train school resource officers and look at security assessments for schools.

The commission will be headed by Dr. Cheryl May, director of the Criminal Justice Institute.


Hutchinson said “school safety,” not guns,  “is the exclusive mission of this commission.” He noted differences of opinion on gun safety issues. He also said, in apparent response to suggestions that the age for purchasing guns should be raised to 21, that many shooters are older than 21. The man accused in the Florida slaughter, Nikolas Cruz, is 19. His full quote:

“This is not a gun control commission. It’s not addressing school safety from that standpoint. This is a school safety commission. And I’ve said repeatedly that I want to address things that we can agree upon and that are obvious will make a difference. So the debate will continue, I’ve stated my position, that I don’t think further gun control is a solution to school safety. And so we want to focus on this. This is something we agree upon. And that’s the exclusive mission of this commission.”

Arkansas in 2015 passed legislation to allow school employees to be licensed to carry weapons if a school district chooses. Currently, 13 school districts operate within that program, Hutchinson said. He also said that he does not support legislation that raises the age for owning an assault rifle to 21. “That’s not a solution,” he said. “School safety is a solution.”


“This commission on school safety is to look at the broad range of issues surrounding safety in our schools,” he said, including mental health (with counselors), school architecture, and “prevention and response capability” with local law enforcement.

Hutchinson said that there’d been some improvement in school safety officers, up from last year’s 299 to 316 this year, but that still only accounts one-third of schools.

The commission will include school teachers, sheriffs, school superintendents, a school counselor, and a representative from the attorney general’s office. None was named from Moms Demand Action.  The commission members (and the governor said he might add some):

Dr. Cheryl May – Chair
Director, Criminal Justice Institute (CJI)
University of Arkansas System


Bill Temple – Vice Chair
Retired Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

John “Don” Kaminar
Special Projects and School Safety Manager
Arkansas Department of Education (ADE)

Brad Montgomery
Director of Public School Academic Facilities
Arkansas Department of Education (ADE)

A.J. Gary
Director, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM)

Sheriff Tim Helder
Washington County Sheriff

Jami Cook
Director, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA)

Will Jones
Deputy Attorney General, Special Investigations Unit
Office of the Attorney General

David Hopkins
Superintendent, Clarksville School District

Dawn Anderson
High School Counselor, Hot Springs High School


John Allison
Teacher, Vilonia High School

Hopkins led the way on opening school campuses to armed teachers. I wonder if the governor considered adding someone who views arming teachers — as opposed to security officers — as problematic. Hutchinson himself once felt that way.