Open carry march in Arkansas (where open carry is illegal) seeks to force the issue, and does it right

Credit: Lilyan Kauffman, Arkansas Open Carry

Credit: Lilyan Kauffman, Arkansas Open Carry

Gun rights advocates in Jonesboro, Arkansas all but dared authorities to arrest them in an open carry march over the weekend, and it appears for now that they have won the day:

They walked down Main Street with handguns openly holstered on their hips contending a law in effect since August allows for the open carrying of firearms. Scott Vaughn, an organizer of the event, made their purpose clear at the outset.

“Basically, most everybody’s probably right handed so we’ll walk on the west side of Main Street so that our guns are able to be seen.”

However, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, State Police, and many legislators have plainly stated open carry is not legal or the intent of a law passed by the 2013 General Assembly.

Brent Smith, one of two candidates for state representative in Jonesboro at the march, said his interpretation of the law has led him to think about where he might carry.

“If I were in an area I didn’t know or the crime statistics were rather high but I still had to be there for an event or for some commercial reason, or even a political reason I think it would be an intelligent decision on my part to openly carry,” said Smith.

Law enforcement officials and District Prosecutor Scott Ellington allowed the event to take place and city police even drove by a number of times. This is all seemingly contrary to the opinions of the Attorney General and State Police.

Bills written with the explicit intent of legalizing open carry in Arkansas have been bottled up in committee at least twice, but the opinions of State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel seem to be carrying less and less weight outside of Little Rock.

McDaniel battled with school boards earlier this year over school districts that wanted to train and arm faculty to react against active shooters, a battle that McDaniel lost.

At this open carry event in Jonesboro, it appears that local authorities again rebelled against the state, not just allowing the event, but sending officers in patrol vehicles past the event in what many might be encouraged to view as support.

You’ll note that if you you follow the first link in the story and cycle through the images that the open carry supporters were carrying holstered handguns in normal street clothes, not rifles and shotguns while wearing camo or overtly “tactical” gear.

If people want to truly normalize open carry and win converts from the all-important undecided voters who will be needed to get gun right supporters elected to office, this is the way to do it.

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