Arkansas is already a Constitutional Carry state (sort of, anyway), but just like every other permitless carry state, you can still obtain a concealed carry license if you want one or need one to be able to lawfully carry in other states. And just like the vast majority of states, obtaining that carry license will cost you; almost $100 if you’re under the age of 65 and a little more than $60 if you’re a senior citizen.
However, thanks to a new law set to take effect next week, some Arkansas will be able to obtain a carry license free of charge. Active duty and retired members of the military will soon be exempt from those mandatory fees, and Second Amendment supporters like Logan Lee, owner of the 141 Shooting Range in Bono, Arkansas are glad to see the change take place.
“I feel like carrying a handgun is a God-given right protected by our Constitution,” Lee said. “And that’s what our service members do. They go out there and help preserve our government, our constitutional rights, and if we can make it a little easier for them; they already paid an awesome price for us, why not extend that olive branch out a little bit and let’s take away the fee for them.”
Personally, I’d rather that Arkansas just take a page from Indiana’s legislative playbook and remove the fees for all concealed carry applicants, but I appreciate lawmakers trying to do something nice for those who’ve served this country in uniform. If Arkansas wasn’t a Constitutional Carry state, then I might have stronger objections, but as it is the Arkansas Court of Appeals has declared that unless there’s unlawful intent to use a firearm as a weapon against another person, carrying a firearm without a concealed carry license isn’t a crime.
Still, ideally the state would remove any and all government-imposed financial burdens on the exercise of a civil right, even for those who aren’t active duty or retired military. It is, after all, a right of the People that we’re talking about, so the idea of special privileges being granted to anyone in association with that right kinda sticks in my craw a bit.
I have a feeling I’m probably in the minority here, and the new law is certainly smart politics in Arkansas, where one of the biggest fights in the legislature this year involved an intra-party debate over a Second Amendment Sanctuary bill that was approved by lawmakers but vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The state Senate voted to override the governor’s veto, but the state House instead rewrote the bill to address Hutchinson’s concerns, and the House and Senate ended up passing a new version of the Second Amendment Sanctuary bill that Hutchinson agreed to sign.
Gun control legislation, on the other hand, doesn’t stand a chance of getting to Hutchinson’s desk, thanks to strong pro-2A majorities in both the House and the Senate. The debate is over which pro-gun measures should be legislative priorities, not whether or not lawmakers should be trying to protect or restrict the right to keep and bear arms.
Maybe next year Republicans will decide to take the next step and remove the licensing fees for all gun owners, but for now at least those who’ve served and sacrifice in defense of this nation won’t have to pay for the privilege of exercising their right to bear arms.