This one is a real zinger, folks.
A proposed bill in the Arkansas State Legislature with the potential to allow the concealed and open carry of a handgun without a permit is a more divisive issue for gun owners than most might think. The bill is scheduled for discussion during the senate judiciary committee on Tuesday, March 7.
El Dorado native and freshman State Senator Trent Garner (R-27th District) spearheaded Senate Bill 444 supporting what people know as constitutional carry, a movement sweeping the nation for non-permit open and concealed carry of a handgun as suggested by the second amendment: “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
In addition to the discrepancy mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, proponents of non-permit carry argued that there are too many confusing laws and registration paperwork for gun-carrying citizens, and if criminals and reckless people are already in possession of a handgun in public, then law-abiding citizens should be able to as well, Garner said.
Some argue that Arkansas is already somewhat of a constitutional carry state.
In 2015, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge interpreted Act 746, passed in 2013, to allow people in Arkansas to openly carry a handgun with a few caveats: law officers can ask the user’s intent of the weapon, carrying a weapon is not allowed in restricted areas — government building, public university, etc., private property owners have authority over whether people can openly carry a weapon and the law doesn’t affect concealed carry statutes.
Arkansas isn’t the only state considering the move for constitutional carry. Other similar bills are being considered in 14 other states including: Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, to name a few.
As of late, Garner’s proposal is empty, but the idea of what it could lead to has been polarizing for gun-owning citizens of El Dorado spanning from law-enforcement and gun shop employees to average gun-owners and the rest of the state. But, each stance agreed that a knowledge of gun safety and the state law is required for every gun-owner, even if it’s not mandatory.
“I have a real problem with people carrying guns without proper training,” said Larry Combs, local gun instructor and former mayor of El Dorado. “There’s enough gun accidents already.”
Combs teaches classes for people interested in obtaining a concealed carry license, and has seen some local gun-owners who have carried a handgun without a license or permit.
“This is the state of Arkansas, I’ve seen people who carry a gun concealed and say ‘I don’t need a permit, I’ve handled a gun my whole life’ and they can — unless they get stopped by the police, then they’re in trouble,” Combs said.
Danny Farley, lead court security officer for the El Dorado Federal Court building, is also a concealed carry instructor and does not favor non-permit concealed or open carry.
“It’s a bad idea,” Farley said. “The major problem is people need to know when it’s not okay to carry a weapon. I have no problem with people carrying a weapon, but they need to be educated, which a license guarantees.”
For concealed-carry certification in the state of Arkansas a person is required to take a 5-hour class where the instructor must stress liability and safety, show how to load and discharge a gun, read the state and federal gun laws in a coherent manner, and make sure the person is competent in handling a gun through a “live-fire” test.
Once training is completed, a questionnaire covering a person’s mental health, drug, alcohol, and criminal history is filled and submitted to the Arkansas State Police, at which point officials can grant or repeal a person from obtaining a license to carry a concealed handgun.
Open carry has no strings attached.
“To me, I don’t like open carry because there’s no regulations or class required,” said Ricky Roberts, Union County Sheriff. “With concealed carry, dispatch can run your name through the system and know whether you have a license to be carrying a weapon or not.”
Also, law enforcement officers are restricted to a certain extent when confronting people who openly carry a handgun, for instance: the officer can ask for that person’s intent and if the officer believes it’s for self-defense and hasn’t seen any suspicious activity, the officers move on. This can be a slippery slope, Farley said.
“If you carry openly, an officer has the right to ask if it’s for self defense use, and once that’s done he walks away, that’s all that police can do,” he said.
A large concern for gun-owners is that laws aren’t strict enough on criminals or mentally-ill persons, and until those laws are enforced law-abiding citizens should have easier access to owning a gun for self-defense, said Linda Newbury, mayor of Felsenthal.
So gun owners are split, or something like that, on the question of constitutional carry in Arkansas, but in order to prove the pretext of the article, the author cites Larry Combs, local gun instructor and former mayor of El Dorado, Danny Farley, lead court security officer for the El Dorado Federal Court building, who is also a concealed carry instructor, and Ricky Roberts, Union County Sheriff. Two of them stand to lose the class fees for permitting if constitutional carry passes, and one of them is a LEO, and LEOs almost always hate constitutional carry. Just because. Shut up. They’re in charge.
Of course, they are all huge supporters of the second amendment, but there’s that little nit early in the article on the “discrepancy mentioned in the U.S. Constitution,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. Discrepancy. It must be that the founders didn’t really mean what they wrote, or something. But remember, folks who want a government permitting fee are always “big supporters of the second amendment.”
As for open carry, can you imagine a sillier Kabuki dance than a LEO stopping to ask why a person is openly carrying a gun? “Why no officer, it isn’t for self defense, it’s for shooting up the local elementary school.” How absolutely ridiculous. As if the person couldn’t also carry concealed if he intended nefarious things with his weapon.
And don’t even mention that Arkansas crime hasn’t skyrocketed with blood running in the streets since the Arkansas AG interpretation that the law allows open carry with caveats. It’s the caveats that are absurd, along with the notion that being able to surmise that a person openly carrying has a permit. Oh, that’s right, the progressives want LEOs to be able to stop and identify you if you’re openly carrying and ask for proof of permitting, a schema that doesn’t acquiesce to the notion that all stops have to be so-called “Terry Stops” in order to be constitutional.
Oh dear, people just cannot learn to keep from looking like imbeciles when they speak of these things. They really should look to the other open carry states, where things work just fine, LEOs aren’t running scared of open carriers, blood isn’t running in the streets, and where constitutional carry (in the states that honor it) hasn’t caused wild west shootouts because people don’t know the law.
Just take a deep breath, people. Look around you. Think. Ponder in the quiet for a period of time. Learn from history. Quit being hysterical. And make sure to reject lawmaking for the purpose of permitting and class fees and coffers of those who benefit from that revenue. There is a fairer way to raise revenue than penalizing gun owners.
Perhaps some reader in Arkansas can give us an update on the state of things in your beloved state.