An arsonist vandalized and then burned the personal truck of a small town Arkansas police chief Monday night in what is meant to look like an attack by open carry activists:
Bald Knob Police Chief Erek Balentine went outside of his home Monday night to find his personal truck fully engulfed in flames. It was immediately determined to be a case of arson.
“I opened the front door and the whole back glass fully engulfed and then written on the side of it second amendment,” Chief Erek Balentine said.
“Second amendment” was written on both sides of the truck. The right to bear arms–at least openly without a permit has been a topic of the town recently when Bald Knob citizen Richard Chambless was arrested and then later convicted for open carrying inside a McDonalds.
Balentine says the message the arsonist was trying to send didn’t work.
“They really didn’t get a message. The message that I’ve heard a lot is they basically want me to back off. They want me to stop. They basically want me to leave it alone and that’s not going to happen. Burning my truck didn’t help,” Balentine said. “It actually makes me want to enforce more and go forward with it until we can get higher courts to give an answer.”
Open carrier Richard Chambless, who recently made the news for his arrest and conviction on charges related to open carry in a case certain to be appealed, has come out strongly against the attack on the chief. Chambless hopes that the whoever carried out the attack is found and prosecuted.
We don’t know, of course, whether or not the arsonist is actually an open carry supporter or if it is someone with a grudge against the chief who also saw an opportunity to attempt to make open carry supporters look bad.
All we can do at this juncture is point out the simple fact that open carry supporters have been marked by general civility and at their worst, civil disobedience. While there have been dozens of arrests of open carriers, they have almost universally been based upon legal technicalities.
I cannot recall incidents of open carry supporters being violent with law enforcement anywhere in the United States, and certainly not seeking them out for retaliation after the fact.
Like Mr. Chambless, we hope authorities will find the person responsible for this crime and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
Mr. Chambless’s conviction is being appealed, with his first hearing on the appeal scheduled for October 19.
Current Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued an opinion in late August that Act 746 legalized open carry in 2013, an opinion not shared by her predecessor, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
It is our opinion that the Arkansas legislature take up the issue in their next legislative session, clearly and unambiguously coming down either in favor of or against open carry.
Vaguely-worded laws are the tools of petty tyrants, and should never be accepted at any level of government.