FORT SMITH (KFSM) – New signs were placed at the Central Mall in Fort Smith this week, stating that firearms and weapons are not allowed on the property.
Deborah Johnson has been the general manager at Central Mall for 17 years, and said it has been company policy for at least five years not to allow weapons on their private property.
“It’s an ownership decision, and we followed suit. And basically, that's really the crux of what I’m authorized to tell you,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday (April 5).
Robert McDaniel, an employee in the mall, started working there in 1992 and just became aware of the policy on Tuesday, adding there is a sticker on the door stating no weapons are permitted on the property.
"I thought that there was nothing on there, and I actually went and read the thing today and sure enough it's there,” McDaniel said.
The new signs say “No firearms or weapons allowed on this property,” with a firearm and knife pictured, but Johnson said the focus is on guns.
“That's just kind of a generic sign,” Johnson said. “What we're addressing is weapons or guns, on the property.”
“I think that if you're going to have a policy like that, it shouldn't be a broad brush stroke -- you should actually have details,” McDaniel said.
We asked for specifics on the policy, including what defines a weapon, but were told “no” when asked if we could be told what the policy states.
McDaniel said while he does not want the policy in place, he thinks people will continue to carry weapons on the property regardless.
“Most concealed carriers will take a chance on continuing to carry their gun,” he said.
He said while it has only happened a few times, he has seen people openly carrying inside the mall.
"I have seen people openly carry in the mall, recently, as little as two weeks ago,” McDaniel said.
However, Johnson said the penalty is the same as it has always been.
“Our penalty is if you're on the property with the weapon, we're going to ask you to leave,” she said.
Johnson said she is not sure if the policy is listed on the Central Mall’s website for the public to read.
We reached out to the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville. The security office said no weapons are allowed at that mall either.