Gun laws in Arkansas
|Subject/Law||Long guns||Handguns||Relevant Statutes||Notes|
|State permit required to purchase?||No||No|
|Assault weapon law?||No||No|
|Magazine Capacity Restriction?||No||No|
|Owner license required?||No||No|
|License required for concealed carry?||N/A||No||5-73-301 - 5-73-320||Act 746 allows for concealed carry without permit.
Shall-Issue. The Arkansas State Police issue and recognize the Arkansas Concealed Handgun Carry License, as do states that have existing reciprocity with Arkansas.
|License required for open carry?||No||No||5-73-120||May open carry without license.|
|State Preemption of local restrictions?||Yes||Yes||5-73-120|
|NFA weapons restricted?||No||No||5-73-205||All NFA items allowed if in compliance with Federal law.
Machine guns may not have ammunition .30 in. or 7.63 mm or bigger unless the gun is registered to an ammunition corporation.
|Shall Certify?||Yes||Yes||5-73-112||Shall certify within 15 days. With the enactment of 41F/P on July 13, 2016 the need for "Shall Certify" legislation has essentially been negated.|
|Peaceable Journey laws?||Yes||Yes||5-73-120 (c)(4)||Weapons are allowed if the person is carrying a weapon when upon a journey, unless the journey is through a commercial airport when presenting at the security checkpoint in the airport or is in the person's checked baggage and is not a lawfully declared weapon. "Journey" is defined as "travel beyond the county in which a person lives." (5-73-120(B)(3))|
|Background checks required for private sales?||No||No|
In Arkansas, possession or ownership of a firearm is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony, adjudicated to be mentally defective, or committed involuntarily to a mental institution.
Arkansas has state preemption for most firearms laws. However, localities may enact laws regulating the discharge of firearms, or in emergency situations. Local government units and private individuals may not sue firearms manufacturers or dealers for matters relating to the lawful manufacture or distribution of firearms, except in cases of product liability or breach of contract.
Automatic weapons must be registered with the Arkansas secretary of state, in addition to being registered under federal law.
Open and Concealed Carry
As of August 16, 2013 permits are no longer required to concealed carry a handgun. However, there was some confusion over the legality of permitless carry in Arkansas. For concealed carry, Arkansas still offers CCW permits on a "shall issue" basis. Open carry of handguns is legal by a simple reading of the law, yet some Arkansas states officials denied that it was legal. Applicants must pass a background check and complete a training course to receive a new or renewal concealed carry license. An existing license is suspended or revoked if the license holder is arrested for a felony or for any violent act, becomes ineligible due to mental health treatment, or for a number of other reasons. Concealed firearms may not be carried in a courthouse, meeting place of any government entity, athletic event, places of higher education, or in a number of other places.
On October 17, 2018, the Arkansas Court of Appeals issued a ruling that clarified that the mere carrying of a handgun is not a crime by itself absent a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun as a weapon against a person, and any ambiguity would be found in favor of the defendant per the rule of lenity. This effectively ends the dispute on the legality of permitless carry in Arkansas.
Amended portion Ar statute 5-73-120:
Description of "carrying a weapon" as seen from a legal standpoint. "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." The Act's subsections go on to describe the specific circumstances in which one may legally carry that weapon. Though the language in some of Act 746 had created confusion over the legalities of open and concealed carry without a permit with some state officials and law enforcement it has since been amended to correct these confusions and goes on to describe the specific instances and places where it is legal to carry a weapon.
Background on the confusion that surrounded Act 746:
While constitutional gun rights advocates and most law enforcement agencies have tried to argue that Act 746 legalizes open and concealed carry in Arkansas without a permit, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel at the time, issued a non-binding opinion on July 8, 2013 stating that Act 746 applies only to persons who are carrying firearms while "on a journey across or through Arkansas," that open carry remains illegal and that a valid permit is still required for concealed carry for those who are not traveling across Arkansas. In his opinion written to State Senator Eddie Joe Williams, Attorney General McDaniel defined a journey as "travel beyond one's county of residence," but further stated it would be ultimately up to the discretion of law enforcement officials and county prosecutors as to whether or not persons carrying without a valid permit would be arrested and prosecuted.
Opinions on open carry:
In my opinion, Act 746's amendments to § 5-73-120 mean that (1) the statute only criminalizes a person's "possess[ing] a handgun on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by the person, or otherwise readily available for use" if he or she simultaneously has the intent "to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun ... as a weapon" against a person, and (2) this unlawful intent may not be presumed simply because that person possesses a loaded handgun.
Opinions on Concealed Carry:
Nothing in Act 746, § 5-73-120(a), or this opinion is intended to suggest a person may carry a concealed handgun in public without a properly issued concealed-carry license. In fact, except during a journey, it is likely that the Arkansas Supreme Court would allow the presumption that a person who has flouted the concealed-carry licensing scheme in Arkansas law by possessing a concealed handgun without a concealed-carry license has the requisite unlawful intent for a violation of § 5-73-120(a).
Point 4 requires additional explanation. In my opinion, a person may not lawfully carry a concealed handgun in public without a properly issued concealed-carry license. I believe this necessarily follows from the concealed-carry licensing scheme that predates Act 746 and that, in my opinion, was unaffected by Act 746. The licensing requirement is recognized in the "concealed handgun" exception under § 5-73-120.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has also stated that open carry may generate reasonable suspicion for an officer to stop and briefly detain a person.
[A]ny person who carries a handgun should be aware that a law enforcement officer might lawfully inquire into that person's purpose. Determining culpability or potential culpability under Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-120 is initially a matter for law enforcement following guidelines that routinely apply when investigating a misdemeanor involving the danger of forcible injury to persons. A law enforcement officer may stop and detain any person reasonably suspected of violating § 5-73-120 if necessary to identify the person or determine the lawfulness of his or her conduct. Whether an officer has reasonable suspicion will depend upon a number of circumstance-specific factors. Some of these factors are recounted in Ark. Code Ann. § 16-81-203 (Repl. 2005), including: (1) the demeanor of the suspect; (2) the gait and manner of the suspect; (3) any information received from third persons; and (4) the suspect's proximity to known criminal conduct. While merely possessing a loaded handgun completely on its own is not enough for reasonable suspicion of a violation of § 5-73-120(a), possessing a loaded handgun in combination with just one additional factor may, depending on the circumstances, be enough to create reasonable suspicion of intent to unlawfully employ the handgun as a weapon (and thus reasonable suspicion of a violation of § 5-73-120(a)).— Opinion No. 2015-064 by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Despite these non-binding opinions, most local courts have thrown out or dropped the charges on carrying a weapon. One case was ruled guilty in a lower court in Bald Knob. The defendant appealed and the court dismissed the case potentially setting a precedent that open carry is legal. Regardless of what some state or law enforcement officials' views are on Act 746, most agencies and citizens agree with sponsors of the Act, that Arkansas is a constitutional carry state.
- "Gun laws in Arkansas" (PDF).
- NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | Governor Signs NRA - Backed Personal Protection Bill in Arkansas". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
- "Jamie Taff v. State of Arkansas" (PDF).
- Arkansas Attorney General Opinion 13-047, July 8, 2013
- Arkansas. "Attorney General" (PDF). Attorney General Opinions. Arkansas AG. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "Arkansas Open Carrier Has Case Dismissed In Precedent-Setting Case - Bearing Arms - Arkansas, open carry". 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
- Stern, Grant. "Bald Knob Police Chief Cuts Federal Gun Felony Plea Deal, Not Charged With Arson for Torching Own Truck - PINAC News". Retrieved 2016-09-17.
Arkansas Attorney General Opinion No. 2015-064 Retrieved 10 December 2016