Are you curious about the gun laws in Arkansas? Wondering if it’s legal to openly carry firearms in the state? You’ve come to the right place!
Whether you are a resident or planning to visit the state, understanding open carry regulations can help you stay informed and ensure legal compliance.
And because we don’t want you to get in trouble, we’ll look at the requirements, restrictions, and exceptions related to open carry to give you an overview of the current laws in Arkansas.
So keep reading to discover if Arkansas is an open carry state and what it means for you.
Is Arkansas An Open Carry State?
In 2021, Arkansas became an open-carry state for handguns by repealing the law that mandated a permit for carrying concealed weapons.
This means individuals are no longer required to obtain a concealed handgun license in Arkansas.
However, this change in legislation has led to considerable confusion, particularly when it comes to understanding other gun laws that dictate where and when firearms are prohibited.
What Does An Open Carry State Mean?
An open-carry state allows people to openly carry firearms in public. In these states, individuals who meet certain legal requirements can wear their guns in holsters or carry them in plain view without needing a concealed carry permit.
Open carry is based on the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which gives citizens the right to bear arms.
However, each state has specific laws and regulations regarding open carry, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the laws of your particular state before openly carrying a firearm.
Four Categories of Open Carry Laws
Open carry laws vary from state to state, and can be categorized into four main categories. Understanding these categories is essential for gun owners and law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance and public safety.
- Licensed Open Carry/Not Addressed – People can openly carry firearms only after obtaining a proper permit or license. Some states may not specifically address open carry in their statutes, but a permit or license is still required to carry a handgun.
- Permissive Open Carry Laws – Allow people who can legally possess firearms to carry them openly without a permit or license.
- Anomalous Open Carry States – They exhibit varying regulations. Openly carrying a gun may be generally lawful under state law, but local governments might have different gun laws or impose significant restrictions. Criteria for open carry may differ between residents and non-residents.
- Non-Permissive Open Carry States – Openly carrying a gun is prohibited by state law or legal only in specific circumstances, such as during hunting or for legitimate self-defense purposes.
States with Open Carry Gun Laws
The following states in the USA allow their residents to openly carry their guns without necessarily looking for a permit.
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
- Maryland – Permit Required
- Connecticut – Permit Required
- North Dakota
- South Carolina – Permit Required
- Massachusetts – Permit Required
- Minnesota – Permit Required
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island – Permit Required
- Hawaii – Permit Required
Who Can Owe A Gun In Arkansas?
Federal law sets the criteria for individuals to be eligible to purchase and own firearms across the United States. These eligibility standards serve as a baseline, ensuring that certain individuals are prohibited from acquiring firearms.
Such prohibitions include individuals with felony convictions, specific domestic violence misdemeanors, and court orders about domestic violence or severe mental health conditions.
One area where federal laws fall short is in addressing the issue of individuals with demonstrated risk factors for violence or self-harm being able to acquire and possess guns legally. While regulations are in place, notable gaps still need to be addressed.
In Arkansas, the state has incorporated some federal prohibitions as state offenses. This means that people with felony convictions, involuntary commitments to mental institutions, and mental illness adjudications are prohibited from owning firearms in the state.
Exceptions to the felony prohibition in Arkansas law extend to those convicted of specific business-related offenses. Despite having a felony record, these individuals may still possess firearms.
The governor holds the power to restore firearm possession rights for those convicted of a felony, but this can only be done under certain conditions and restrictions.
Individuals arrested for specific federal offenses such as human trafficking, abduction, or unlawful confinement may be subjected to certain arrest conditions.
To be considered for bail, these individuals must comply with a no-contact order against the victim and surrender any firearms.
However, the judges have the authority to waive these conditions in cases where community safety and flight risk are not major concerns.
Concerning domestic violence and firearms in Arkansas, please note
- State legislation in Arkansas permits individuals with domestic violence misdemeanor convictions to possess ammunition or firearms, in contrast to federal regulations.
- Arkansas law neither explicitly authorizes nor requires the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.
- In Arkansas, individuals under domestic violence protective orders are not prohibited from possessing ammunition or firearms, unlike federal regulations.
- There is no mandate in Arkansas law for the surrender of ammunition or firearms by individuals forbidden from owning them due to domestic violence, either under state or federal law.
Getting A Concealed Carry Permit In Arkansas
Following the repeal of the law that required a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public, Arkansas still maintains its permitting statute for individuals seeking a concealed carry permit for reciprocity purposes in states that do require a permit. The following are the qualifications:
- Must be a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident.
- Continuous Arkansas residency for the past 90 days or longer.
- The age requirement is 21 years or older.
- Absence of mental or physical infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a handgun and no history of suicide threats or attempts.
- No felony convictions unless pardoned with restored firearm possession rights or records sealed or expunged before March 13, 1995.
- Compliance with federal, state, and local firearm laws with a successful background check.
- No chronic or habitual abuse of controlled substances within the last three years.
- The desire for a legal means to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense.
To obtain a concealed carry permit in Arkansas, applicants must go through a thorough application process.
The process includes background checks, completion of a training course, and a statement of allegiance to the United States and Arkansas Constitutions.
Once the application is submitted, the Director has a specific timeframe to review it and decide based on the provided criteria.
The criteria for revoking a concealed carry permit in Arkansas are strict and include convictions related to weapons use, alcohol-related offenses, and crimes of violence.
Additionally, the applicants must undergo training that focuses on assessing their competence through live firing demonstrations.
The State Police has made training courses available from registered Firearms Safety Instructors.
One noteworthy development in 2017 was the introduction of a concealed carry permit, which permits license holders to carry loaded firearms in restricted public buildings.
However, it is important to note that obtaining this permit requires completing a one-time additional training course.
The Director of the State Police has the authority to exempt applicants from up to 4 hours of concealed carry permit course instruction based on prior training.
Is Arkansas an open carry state? Yes, Arkansas is an open-carry state for handguns. Individuals are no longer required to obtain a concealed handgun license.
However, understanding the regulations surrounding open carry is crucial, as there are still restrictions and exceptions regarding where and when firearms are prohibited.
Additionally, federal and state laws prohibit certain individuals, such as those with felony convictions or mental health issues, from owning firearms.
Exceptions to the felony prohibition exist for individuals convicted of specific business-related offenses. Also, remember that the governor can restore firearm possession rights for felons under certain conditions.