Arkansas may be next in the list of states to enact so-called constitutional carry laws, or legislation that allows residents who are legal gun owners to carry concealed firearms without needing a permit.
“I’ve heard from hundreds of people in my district wanting constitutional carry,” said state Sen. Trent Garner, who introduced SB 444.
The bill is only one sentence long, according to this story from thv11.com, stating: “the purpose of this act concerns the carrying and possession of a handgun without a license.”
Garner said in the story he wanted to have something filed, even it it is just a skeleton bill, in order to make the legislation submission cutoff date of March 6.
“What I’ve heard from is poor Arkansans, who have the gun and would love to carry, but don’t have time to take off a day of work, don’t have the money to pay the extra $200 to $300 for a fee,” Garner said. “They won’t be able to exercise their right. I think we should allow them to do so.”
State Rep. Greg Leding said in the story that current safeguards should not be abandoned and that some state residents believe that open carry is legal, while it’s apparently not.
“If making the training for concealed carry licenses more accessible is something we need to consider, let’s have that conversation,”[Leding said in the story]. “There was a bill we passed in 2013 that we thought was just cleaning up a little language in a bill, but after we passed it, there were some people that interpreted it as having legalized open carry.”
The story notes that Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has gone on the record to say that open carry is legal in Arkansas…as long as the person carrying the firearm doesn’t plan to use the gun against another person. Law enforcement officials, as might be expected, disagree.
The proposed legislation is separate from the recently introduced campus carry bill, HB 1249, which would legalize concealed carry at the state’s public universities, public colleges, and community college facilities.
In recent weeks, New Hampshire and South Dakota have both moved along legislation to institute constitutional carry policies. Currently 20 states have or will soon have constitutional carry laws in place.