The law reformed previous Arkansas law, which made it illegal to carry weapons in Arkansas, with exceptions, to one that made it illegal to carry weapons with the intent to use them illegally.
Attorney General McDaniel, a Democrat, issued an opinion that the the new law does not allow open carry. That opinion is dissected here. The local media in Arkansas is starting to discover the truth about Act 746, but there is considerable resistance to recognizing the effects of the new law.
It appears that a local second amendment supporter, Glenn Britland, has been attempting to determine if the City of Harrison is going to recognize the new law, or is going to continue to suppress the bearing of arms. He has not had much luck. First, he asked the City Attorney, Van Younes, if he would be arrested if he carried a gun in the City. From harrisondaily.com:
Younes said Britland had specifically asked him if he would be arrested in Harrison for carrying a gun.
He said that each case would be handled individually. If an officer cites a citizen for carrying a gun, the citation would go to Younes as city prosecutor and the matter would be handled through normal procedures.
This does not sound much like the rule of law. If the person charged with enforcing the law essentially says: “It depends”, how is someone to know if they are violating the law or not? After all, this is a pretty simple question. Glenn Britland is not asking what happens if he points a gun at someone. He is not asking what happens if he trespasses. He is trying to find out a simple thing. If he openly carries a gun, will he be arrested? Attorney Younes tries to avoid the question by pushing it onto the state:
Younes told the Daily Times that the city technically has no position on Act 746, which is a law passed by the state Legislature. He also said that because it’s a state law it will be up to the state to clarify it, not the city.
But, Younes is in charge of enforcing the law, so he will have to make the decisions on the ground.
Stan Witt, director of the Arkansas State Police, had this to say: “It’s kind of been twisted where that’s construed as open carry: You can just strap a gun on while you’re going down the road, and you can get out and go in a convenience store with your gun whether you have a concealed carry permit or not. That’s not true.” He added that anybody who tries to carry a gun openly in such a circumstance will be arrested.
Since then, numerous open carry marches have been organized by Arkansas Carry. No one has been arrested during these marches. It is unclear what Stan Witt, quoted above, would charge someone with in the circumstances that he described. Perhaps he would charge them with disorderly conduct, as happened many times in Wisconsin while Wisconsin residents were educating the Wisconsin Police about the legality of open carry in that state.
At least one Arkansas prosecutor says that he will not prosecute people for openly carrying firearms. From the Log Cabin Democrat:
Previously the statute, A.C.A. § 5-73-120, defined the offense of carrying a weapon illegally as having a handgun on their person or in their vehicle “readily available for use with a purpose to employ” the weapon against a person. Altes’ amendment changed this to “’readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ” the weapon against a person.
According to Hiland, the addition of the words “to attempt to unlawfully employ” “fundamentally alters the character and nature of the statute.”
Given the threats made by Stan Witt of Arkansas State Police, and the misdirection by AG McDaniels, it seems reasonable to ask City Attorney Younes how he is going to handle things in Harrison. When Glenn Britland does not obtain any useful information from the City Attorney, he takes his question to the City Council. But here, again, City Attorney Younes advises the aldermen not to take Britland seriously, and they adjourn without answering his question.
Younes told aldermen that it appeared Britland had a personal agenda and “maybe the city has better things to do.”
Britland responded that it’s always good for government to stand up and take a position, but aldermen moved to adjourn the meeting without further comment.
I can see that a small town Attorney might not want to be on the record one way or another, but that is not what he is being paid for. People should be able to determine if they will be subject to arrest for a simple act, especially one that seems to be protected by both the Federal and State Constitutions.
Here is the Arkansas Constitution on the issue:
Arkansas Constitution Article II, Section 5
The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms for their common defense.
So, is City Attorney Younes just trying to stay out of hot water, refusing to do what he is being paid for, or both?
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.
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