BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck says his deputies will not arrest anyone who openly carries a handgun.
"As long as the law is written as it is then we will not arrest any citizen for simply exercising their right to open carry," the sheriff wrote on his Facebook page on Monday (June 1).
Cradduck said he posted his views on the issue because an overwhelming number of people have asked for his thoughts about open carry.
People committing crimes while openly carrying a handgun will still find themselves on the wrong side of the law, he noted.
"If there are other exigent circumstances involved, such as they are committing a crime while openly carrying, then they stand a good chance of being charged for whatever crime they committed, along with the charge of carrying a firearm without a concealed handgun license," he wrote.
The controversy whether open carry is legal in Arkansas began after a bill was passed in the 2013 legislative session containing language some believe allows for open carry of handguns. Dustin McDaniel, who was the attorney general at the time, said open carry of handguns is illegal in the state.
However, the current attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, said she believes the law, known as Act 746, allows for open carry.
“I interpret it to mean an individual may carry so long as he or she does so without the intent to unlawfully employ it against another person," she told 5NEWS in a prepared statement on Monday. "But anytime law enforcement and citizens disagree on a law we need to ensure there is clarity to protect our citizens. I am committed to working with the General Assembly to clarify any confusion surrounding Act 746 and its intent.”
Cradduck said in his Facebook post that he will stand by his position until state legislators approve a measure clarifying the law.
"Until the legislative bodies come together and write the law very clearly stating if and where you may or may not openly carry without a license, then I will not permit my deputies to arrest individuals who are carrying their firearms in an open fashion," he wrote.
In 2013, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder said he agreed with then-Prosecuting Attorney John Threet that open carry is permitted. Threet, who later won election as a Circuit Court judge, said he didn't plan on prosecuting gun owners who openly carry firearms in Washington County. Helder said he would use Threet’s opinion in instructing his deputies on the legality of firearm open carry.