Gun rights advocates received a big boost yesterday when Arkansas State Representative Nate Bell, R-Mena, gave his opinion that Act 746 will decriminalize open carry on August 16th, 2013, the date it takes effect.
Representative Bell was one of many sponsors of HB1700, the enacting bill that passed April 4th, 2013. On a July 16th Facebook post, Bell declares it was the original intent of the sponsors to decriminalize open carry.
It was the intent of the sponsors of Act 746 to decriminalize the open carry of a firearm by persons not prohibited from legally possessing the firearm. It’s my belief that the language contained in 5-73-120 (a) will effectively do so when the new law takes effect on August 16.
~ Nate Bell
In May, OpenCarry.Org founder Mike Stollenwerk declared Arkansas will become a Constitutional Carry state on August 16th:
Effective August 15, 2013, when HB 1700 takes effect, any arrest, charge, or conviction for violating § 5-73-120 can only lawfully arise if two elements of the offense are present. First, that a person was carrying one of the specified weapons. And second, that she was doing so “with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.”
~ Mike Stollenwerk, OpenCarry.Org founder
But that is where Representative Bell disagrees with gun rights advocates. Nate Bell believes concealed carry without a license is not decriminalized under Act 746. If so, Arkansas will only become an open carry state, not one that celebrates Constitutional Carry.
There are people who believe that the new law also will allow concealed carry without a concealed carry license. I disagree with this viewpoint based on several legal points that will be debated in the courts over the next few months.
~ Nate Bell
Bell does not elaborate on that belief, nor does he mention what crime a person could be charged with while carrying concealed without a license.
Even so, both opinions (along with Arkansas Carry’s take on Act 746) completely disagree with an Arkansas Attorney General opinion issued by AG Dustin McDaniel last week. However, McDaniel’s opinion concerned a very narrowly limited portion of the law, a permission to carry while on a journey.
As more legal minds examine Act 746 and its implications, it becomes clear that open carry without a license (at the very least) will be legal in August. Now rights advocates must educate law enforcement of exactly what Arkansas law is.
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