Arkansas AG Wants to Simplify Carry License Regime

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Arkansas residents who can lawfully possess a gun can carry without a license, but as in a handful of other states, including neighboring Texas, if those gun owners do choose to obtain a carry license they have more than one option to choose from. That would change if the state legislature adopts changes recommended by state Attorney General Tim Griffin, who says the state should scrap the two-tiered system and make the state’s “enhanced” carry permit the sole carry license going forward.


Alexandra Benton, deputy attorney general and director of intergovernmental affairs for state Attorney General Tim Griffin’s office, presented the recommendation during a meeting of the Game and Fish/State Police subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council. The focus of Wednesday’s meeting was to examine the state’s laws around concealed carry.

Benton also said Griffin’s office recommended making what is now considered the “enhanced” concealed carry license process a regular concealed carry statute that “would carry forth all of the privileges that are currently codified in enhanced,” and making other changes to Arkansas law around concealed carry to provide clarity and eliminate discrepancies between state and federal rules.

The current enhanced license process require applicants to undergo additional training and allows a person to carry concealed handguns in certain sensitive areas, such as the State Capitol grounds and building, General Assembly meetings, state offices, churches and public universities.

Now, would I prefer to see a true permitless carry system that allows lawful gun owners to carry in those “sensitive places” without the need for a government permission slip? Absolutely. But politics is the art of the possible, and that option appears to be off the table at the moment.


Griffin’s suggested change would still be a big step in the right direction, especially given that the standard concealed carry license is really only necessary for the purposes of reciprocity with other states. My only question is whether the additional training requirements would still be a part of the concealed carry licensing process, or whether those standards (which include approximately eight hours of instruction and live-fire proficiency qualification, according to the state police) would be in line with what’s required for the standard license that’s currently available. As we discussed with the Gun Owners Action League’s Mike Harris earlier in the week, live-fire mandates are problematic on a couple of levels; both from a constitutional and pragmatic perspective.

In addition to simplifying the concealed carry licensing regime, Griffin made a number of other worthwhile suggestions to lawmakers about where lawful gun owners can carry. The attorney general called for lawmakers to scrap the bans on carrying at a school bus stop and for those participating in a parade or demonstration, and suggested that lawmakers “clarify” that existing permit-holders of the enhanced carry license are allowed to have their firearms on them on school grounds while they’re waiting to pick up their kids as long as they don’t bring the gun inside any campus buildings.


Griffin made these suggestions, but that doesn’t mean that lawmakers will automatically adopt them. Gun owners in the Natural State need to contact their state reps and senators and encourage them to get behind these improvements, or else Arkansas’ status quo will likely remain in place for at least another year.


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