Gun advocates, who want to roll back certain restrictions on firearms, plan on holding a demonstration in Fort Smith on Saturday.
Arkansas Carry is a nonprofit organization that supports gun owners, promotes the Second Amendment, and backs efforts to remove bans on the open carry of handguns in the state.
Steve Jones is the chairman of the group. He says Act 746, which was passed by the legislature this year and went into effect last Friday, allows owners to openly carry guns in the state.
“[During the demonstration] all of our members are going to be carrying [handguns] in plain view where the public can see it,” said Jones. “The City of Fort Smith has studied the law and the city prosecutor looked at the law and he agrees that there is no offense that we can be charged under if we open carry our weapons.”
However, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel noted in an opinion that Act 746 did not legalize open carry in Arkansas. His office refused an interview request, only referring back to the written opinion. It states that carrying a weapon is legal only on a journey outside one’s county.
“The purpose behind the [journey] exception is to allow individuals to travel with a firearm in order to protect themselves from the dangers of the open road,” according to certain precedents outlined in the AG’s opinion.
Steve Jones with Arkansas Carry says McDaniel is wrong and the Act is not about the journey, rather it’s about finally allowing Arkansans to carry firearms open or concealed under Constitutional Carry laws.
"Bringing Constitutional Carry to Arkansas is a major change, because there are only four states in the United States that have Constitutional Carry,” Jones said. “Constitutional Carry consists of being able to carry a handgun in the open, in plain view, or concealed without a permit.”
Jones says people need to contact their city and county prosecutors, as well as local law enforcement leaders, to make sure you’re abiding by the rules being enforced in your community if you decide to open carry.
Only a dozen members of Arkansas Carry will be participating in the Saturday demonstration that includes a one-hour walk through certain areas in Fort Smith.