Arkansas Case May Finally Determine If Open Carry Is Legal

An Arkansas man arrested for open carrying his Springfield Armory pistol was arrested by a Bald Knob police officer, leading the local police and the open carrier to have a war of words with one another, which each citing Arkansas law.


It looks like the open carrier, Richard Chambless, will have his day in court today, and a judge will have the first crack at determining what Act 746 (PDF) really means.

Since its passage, Act 746 has been controversial. The statute has been interpreted different ways, but Tuesday, one man will find out how a judge interprets the law.

On a Tuesday afternoon in May, Richard Chambless decided to walk around his hometown of Bald Knob and do some shopping. He started at McDonald’s, walking under the bridge and shopping in two stores before returning to the restaurant to get a drink. It wasn’t unusual behavior, except for the fact that the whole time Chambless was carrying his gun on his hip.

“As long as you don’t have unlawful intent, it is not a crime to carry a handgun in self defense, and that’s what I was doing. I was out shopping in town, stopped here to get a drink of water carrying my weapon and went to jail for it,” said Chambless.

Police arrested him for disorderly conduct and carrying a firearm. The police chief read Chambless sections of the Arkansas Code, only to have Chambless recite back to him Act 746. The majority of the 15 minute interview was calm, but frustration clearly mounted with both sides talking over each other, sticking to their guns about open carry.

At one point, the police chief had enough of the back and forth yelling, “Listen to me. Shut up and let me talk. What I want you to do is, bring your evidence and come to my prosecutor and judge and let them explain to you that you broke the law. Do you understand? You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it.”

Chambless has his day in court this Tuesday, but he’s not deterred. He says he continues to carry his weapon to educate people on the issue in the meantime.


Chambless’s argument with the cheif was posted online.

We’ll post an update with the judge’s determination later today, but I think we can all agree that an ambiguous law is a bad law. The Arkansas legislature needs to get to work and clarify what is and isn’t allowed.

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Folks, we strongly support your First Amendment rights, but please be conscious of the image you project of gun owners when you do protest, and especially if you suspect that you’re going to wind up photographed or videotaped.

Chambless knew he was going to be interviewed by ABC-7, and yet still showed up looking like he was starring in a story about meth addiction. We’re not saying that you need a sportcoat and tie, but a shirt with sleeves and a collar goes a long way towards helping the public focus on the actual issues, instead of being distracted by your slovenly appearance.

Optics matter on the political battlefield, so fight smart.

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