Arkansas Prepares for Open Carry Through ACT 746, but Not if the Attorney General Has Anything to Say About It

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HB1700 was passed in April 2013 after clearing the house and senate with a total of one nay vote. On August 16th, 2013, Arkansans will redeem their right to open carry when the bill now known as ACT 746 goes into effect.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has made commentary that the new ACT makes no changes to existing gun laws, but Central Arkansas attorney David Sterling disagrees, and goes on to state “It actually did change Arkansas law and does permit open carry and constitutional carry as well as concealed carry.”

The difference of opinions is coming from the interpretation of the text in ACT 746 found in this section:

SECTION 2. Arkansas Code § 5-73-120 is amended to read as follows: 29

5-73-120. Carrying a weapon. 30

(a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she 31 possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a 32 vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a 33 purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a 34 weapon against a person.

According to Sterling on McDaniel’s point of view; “He’s taking something that is very clear and trying to make it ambiguous through interpretation,”

HB1700’s had three main changes:

1. The definition of the offense of carrying a weapon was changed from generally banning the carry of a handgun that is carried for the purpose of using it against another person (for any reason, even self-defense). The new wording now specifies that it bans the carry of a handgun that is carried with the intent of

illegally using it against another person.

2. Certain “defenses to a prosecution” (such as allowing law enforcement to carry, carry on a “journey”, possession on your own property, etc) were changed from a defense to a “permission”.

3. The definition of a journey was added to the new law.

“A state senator asked if someone could carry a handgun on a journey. But Attorney General McDaniel addressed the issue of open carry on a journey,” Rutledge said. “I believe the statute is clear if someone is on a journey as defined by the legislature, they may in fact carry a handgun. ”

So will Arkansas take back their constitutional right of carry? The jury is still out, it’s possible that we will have to see a few court cases before the state officials fully accept the new changes to the law. Hopefully Arkansas carry has been successful in raising awareness of the bill and the support of the citizens will prevail.