The gun-rights group Arkansas Carry continued to force the issue of openly carrying firearms in Jonesboro Sunday. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman walked with the group and has this report.
They walked down Main Street with handguns openly holstered on their hips contending a law in effect since August allows for the open carrying of firearms. Scott Vaughn, an organizer of the event, made their purpose clear at the outset.
“Basically, most everybody’s probably right handed so we’ll walk on the west side of Main Street so that our guns are able to be seen.”
However, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, State Police, and many legislators have plainly stated open carry is not legal or the intent of a law passed by the 2013 General Assembly.
Brent Smith, one of two candidates for state representative in Jonesboro at the march, said his interpretation of the law has led him to think about where he might carry.
“If I were in an area I didn’t know or the crime statistics were rather high but I still had to be there for an event or for some commercial reason, or even a political reason I think it would be an intelligent decision on my part to openly carry,” said Smith.
Law enforcement officials and District Prosecutor Scott Ellington allowed the event to take place and city police even drove by a number of times. This is all seemingly contrary to the opinions of the Attorney General and State Police.
Scott Vaughn said opinions in Little Rock may not extend to Craighead County, “You’ve heard some of our law enforcement around here telling everybody they kind of understand it, maybe some don’t. This is what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to beat the bushes and help people get informed about it.” Vaughn said he found articles in local newspaper by the District Prosecutor and local law enforcement heads encouraging for open carry advocates.
The group of about twenty talked afterward of future marches throughout towns all over Arkansas. They plan to keep pushing the issue, and their interpretation of the law, Act 746.
KUAR will further investigate the legislative intent of lawmakers this week.