Gubernatorial Candidates’ Views on Open Carry in Arkansas

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- There's some confusion about whether people in Arkansas can openly carry a handgun.

The candidates for governor, Asa Hutchinson (R) and Mike Ross (D), spoke to 5NEWS on Wednesday (Oct. 15), and explained what their views are on whether people can carry guns openly in Arkansas under current law.

“It's my understanding that the legislature passed a law the last session that legalized open carry and basically said that unless you're carrying a weapon for a criminal purpose, that it's not a violation of the law,” Hutchinson said.

“I believe the current law is that open carry is not allowed in Arkansas. If the legislature wants to address that, I’d be receptive to whatever changes they want to do to try to clarify it,” Ross said.

The law Hutchinson and Ross are referring to is Act 746, passed by the Arkansas legislature in the last session. This led to demonstrations from people who interpreted the law to mean they were allowed to open carry.

“I'm not trying to say everybody in our society needs to carry a weapon openly. We, primarily, have emphasized for protection -- the concealed weapon aspect. But there is a constitutional right. It seems to me that's what's in the legislation right now,” Hutchinson said.

"I think there's places where it makes sense, there's places probably where it doesn't make sense. For example, in bars. And so you know, I think it's something -- I guess I’m kind of in a 'wait and see' position,” Ross said.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an opinion stating the act does not allow Arkansans to carry handguns openly.

Asa Hutchinson was at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith for a tour of the campus Wednesday (Oct. 15) and Mike Ross was in town for a judicial council forum, which Hutchinson also attended.

The other people running for governor on the Nov. 4 ballot are Green Party candidate Joshua Drake and Libertarian Frank Gilbert.


  • Michael L Phillips

    This does not look like video from any Arkansas Constitutional Carry walk. I have participated in several of the walks celebrating the passage of ACt 746 and no one was carrying long guns. Carrying long guns openly is legal in Arkansas but is not the focus of Act 746. The footage included in this report seems designed to inflame and not educate.

  • Michael L Phillips

    Constitution of the United States
    Bill of Rights
    Amendment II
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Constitution of the State of Arkansas of 1874
    Article 2
    Declaration of Rights
    5. Right to Bear Arms
    The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms, for their common defense.

    Arkansas Act 746 of 2013
    SECTION 2. Arkansas Code § 5-73-120 is amended to read as follows:
    5-73-120. Carrying a weapon.
    (a) 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, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.

    Statements from Sponsors of Act 746:
    Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, said in a Facebook post that he and his fellow legislators “did not screw up.”
    Altes said open carry had “been the law in Arkansas since at least the 1800s. He said though several attempts to update the law through the years were unsuccessful, he was able to strike the right balance with the language of HB 1700 to please groups including the Sheriff’s Association, the Chiefs of Police Association, the Prosecutors’ Association and the State Police.
    “The old code was written so there were many defenses to carrying a weapon. So, I asked why not make it a right with exceptions. This met with approval from everyone. It seems that it is two sides of the same coin,” he wrote. “So, we didn’t really change the law, we only clarified that it is a right to keep and bear arms according to the Second Amendment of our Constitution (According to Webster’s ‘bear’ means ‘to carry’).”
    Representative Nate Bell was one of many sponsors of HB1700, the enacting bill that passed April 4th, 2013. On a July 16th Facebook post, Bell declares it was the original intent of the sponsors to decriminalize open carry.
    “It was the intent of the sponsors of Act 746 to decriminalize the open carry of a firearm by persons not prohibited from legally possessing the firearm. It’s my belief that the language contained in 5-73-120 (a) will effectively do so when the new law takes effect on August 16.” ~ Nate Bell

    Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, a co-sponsor of the legislation, said it “decriminalizes the carrying of a handgun, or any weapon for that matter.” SW Times Record

  • sarah 4.0

    Asa doesn’t carry his drivers license much less a firearm.

    Show me your well regulated militia and I will support open carry.
    You guys are skewing words. Even the military does not carry weapons on base. They don’t carry weapons in other countries unless on the battlefield. You aren’t a militia and you should play with your weapons in a safe place, not out amongst innocent people.  You lack something to have to have ‘special’ equipment to make you feel masculine.

    • Honey Badger

      So i guess it’s okay with you that the secret service protects your god with guns but you don’t want anyone else to have them. If this is the limit of your intelligence so should just pull your lip over your head and swallow!

      • Sarah 4.0

        Apparently you haven’t been keeping up with the news. The President has had three incidents and the Sectet Service have not used service weapons or good sense.
        The President is not my God. Blasphemy!

  • Shawn

    I guess I’m kind of in a ‘wait and see’ position,” Ross said. So he’s for whatever? I think if you go to a bar to drink, don’t carry, if your there as a designated driver, carry concealed. It would stop a lot of bar injuries/deaths.

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