Arkansas ranks among states that have constitutional carry laws on the books. However, it’s something of a mess. It seems people aren’t sure what’s legal and what isn’t.
Now, a state lawmaker is seeking clarification.
Confusion among gun owners in Arkansas led one legislator to file a House resolution asking for clarity.
State Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, filed HR1013 asking members of the Arkansas House to acknowledge Arkansas as a constitutional carry state that does not require a permit to carry concealed or openly.
“I personally have let my concealed carry permit expire,” Smith said. “I don’t plan on getting another one.”
Smith says an Arkansas Senate colleague will push a similar resolution in that chamber should this one pass.
Now, clarification is a good thing, but I’m not entirely sure that will solve the problem. If the law is unclear, it may make enforcement uneven regardless of what the legislature does regarding resolutions. It seems to me it would make more sense to pass a law that clearly articulates what’s covered and what isn’t.
That said, clarification does at least give prosecutors some guidance in what the law was intended to mean. While it may not make a hill of beans to them, it likely may with the courts which will look at what the law was intended to do. Case law can easily clarify the law for enforcement purposes, and the resolution should make that easier as well.
The problem is that you’re trusting judges to interpret the law, and far too many of them seem inclined to insert their politics into their rulings.
Maybe it’s just me, but that’s a gamble I’d rather not take, either as a lawmaker or an individual looking to carry a firearm concealed.
I’m not the only one who feels that way, either.
“I’m not sure if this passes it really changes the legal landscape, because it’s essentially a commentary by the House on what the existing law is,” said [Law professor Robert] Steinbuch. “Some people believe the law is crystal clear, you can carry at any time. I wouldn’t want to be the guy that tests that case. I would not carry a concealed weapon without a license.”
If possible, I’d urge Rep. Smith or someone else in the legislature to draft a new constitutional carry law that will clarify the law beyond a shadow of a doubt. Make it so that those who try to comply with the law have no doubt what the law is and that they are complying with it. While ambiguity in the law should be looked at in such a way that favors the citizen, we all know that’s not how it works. We’re expected to know and follow all laws on the books, even when that’s impossible. Ambiguous laws only make it that much more difficult.
My hope is that Arkansas cleans this up and makes things better for the citizens of their state.