Arkansas Open Carry Attorney General Opinion
Arkansas’ Attorney General Leslie Rutledge recently released an opinion that states legal gun owners can carry their guns on their person or in their vehicle so long as they were not violating other laws or regulations or planning on using the gun in an unlawful manner. Following changes in Arkansas’ weapon-carry statute in 2013, there has been some debate as to whether Arkansas was now an open carry state. With this latest opinion, which was requested in June of this year, legal Arkansas gun owners can carry their weapons openly without fear of prosecution – at least in theory, and with a few important qualifications.
For starters, the AG’s opinion is not the same thing as a law, and you still aren’t encouraged to carry your gun in the open. The idea behind Arkansas open carry is that you aren’t violating Arkansas’ weapon-carry laws by keeping your weapon on you – so long as firearms aren’t prohibited by other laws or regulations. But the intent to use a firearm unlawfully is still illegal, and law enforcement officers have a duty to investigate the intended use. This means you can openly carry your firearm on your person or in your vehicle, but you should expect to have police question you. And if officers have a reasonable suspicion that you plan to use your firearm unlawfully – whether from their own observations or third-party information – you may still be detained.
This latest opinion regarding Arkansas open carry is expected to help protect legal gun owners who are carrying a firearm in an area where such weapons are permitted. But, as we noted earlier, Rutledge’s opinion helps clarify but does not actually change the 2013 weapon-carry statute. So while you can carry your firearm on your person or in your vehicle, there are still a variety of potential legal consequences for doing so. And many Arkansans expect the issue will find its way to the Arkansas Supreme Court before it is settled.
If you are facing possible arrest or prosecution for carrying your firearm, an experienced defense attorney can help you understand and protect your rights. Contact attorney Ben T. Roberds and the Roberds Law Firm at 479-464-0904 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.