Activists Hold Open Carry Marches Spurring Gun Act Debate
Arkansas does not have an open carry gun law, because two bills died in the legislature this session, but some believe Act 746 passed is not much different than an open carry law. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an opinion this year stating he did not believe the act was the same.
"Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has done a tremendous job at confusing the public," Steve Jones, spokesperson for Arkansas Carry said.
Arkansas Carry is a gun activist group which lobbies for an open carry law in Arkansas.
When we talk to city leaders that actually look at the law and read it the way it is written, they understand right to bear arms is back in Arkansas," Jones said.
Because of the new act, Arkansas Carry has been staging open carry marches around the state where law abiding citizens march with their guns revealed. The latest march was in Bryant and more are planned.
The act is concerning county prosecutors across the state. The act says:
"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."
Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Highland told Channel 7 News that there is a concern law enforcement could have issues proving someone with a gun is intending to use it "unlawfully."
"The law as passed makes it very difficult if not impossible to ascertain the intent of someone who is attempting to unlawfully deploy a weapon against another person so the practical effect is a substantial change in the law," Highland said.
Highland along with several other prosecuting attorneys in central Arkansas told Channel 7 News they are forced to follow the law as it is written.
"I think it's hard to come up with a scenario in which law enforcement can prosecute someone successfully because again you have to get into the intent. And a law enforcement officer is going to have to walk up and ascertain that. Are they going to tell them look, I was about to rob the Seven Eleven? That's not going to happen," Highland said.