It used to be a crime for an upstanding Arkansas citizen to openly carry a firearm within the state, but Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says that’s no longer the case.
It all started on August 22, when Richard Chambless was arrested for open carrying a handgun. Chambless was convicted and sentenced to a year of probation and $2,160 in fines, but the Natural State native argued he was lawfully open carrying. In the end, Rutledge agreed with him.
According to pre-2013 Arkansas law, a person “commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person…”
However, when Act 746 was passed in 2013, a second criterion was added to the existing law. Now, a person is only unlawfully carrying a weapon if he or she possesses said weapon and simultaneously has the intent “to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun… as a weapon.”
Since Chambless had no intent, he hadn’t broken any laws.
Rutledge agreed with the Chambless assessment, but she wasn’t all too happy about it. The Attorney General took to Facebook to discourage open carry and warned that while it may be legal, it’s also a reason for police to detain you.
“[A]ny person who carries a handgun should be aware that a law enforcement officer might lawfully inquire into that person’s purpose,” said Rutledge.
So if you’re in Arkansas and plan to legally open carry a handgun, be prepared to be stopped by the police.
Here is a breakdown, county by county, on how police will respond to an open carrier, courtesy of KATV:
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office: up to deputies’ discretion to ask your intent while open carrying
North Little Rock Police: will stop everyone
Little Rock Police: probable cause
Saline County Sheriff’s Office: will stop everyone
Bryant and Benton Police: officer’s discretion
Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office: probable cause
Conway Police: probable cause
Garland County Sheriff’s Office: did not respond to KATV inquiries
Hot Springs Police: waiting to hear from prosecutor’s office for further instruction, but you could be stopped by an officer
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office: probable cause
Pine Bluff Police: probable cause
All police departments and sheriff’s offices KATV spoke with on Monday made it clear that they will respond to all 911 calls made about a person open carrying.
Video below highlights the issue just before Rutledge’s decision was released:
(This article was submitted by freelance writer Brent Rogers)