Arkansas Gun Laws

Gun Law in Arkansas

As widely interpreted, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows citizens to “keep arms.” Even with that type of protection for gun owners, individual states still have a responsibility and legal obligation to regulate gun purchases and possession. Each state has its own set of laws governing firearms. Arkansas gun laws reflect the strong cultural ties to gun ownership while still providing basic restrictions to maintain safety for the citizens.

A unique aspect of Arkansas concealed carry law is that the Arkansas State Police maintain a fairly comprehensive list of places where carry is accepted with a CCP. In most states, assembling this information, if it can be readily obtained, is a tedious job. Arkansas is a constitutional carry state, meaning that anyone legally allowed to possess a handgun may carry it open or concealed without a license.

Arkansas LawsArkansas’s population is just under 3,000,000. Arkansas shares its southern border with Louisiana, and its northern border with Missouri. To the east, it borders with Tennessee and Mississippi. Its western borders are with Texas and Oklahoma.

Recent Changes in Arkansas Gun Laws

Arkansas has recently implemented several significant changes to its gun laws, aimed at clarifying existing statutes and expanding the rights of gun owners in the state. These changes reflect ongoing efforts to simplify gun regulations and address the concerns of gun owners and Second Amendment advocates.

Simplification and Study of Gun Laws

In August 2023, Arkansas lawmakers initiated a one-year study to address the state’s “sometimes confusing gun laws,” to recommend legislation to clarify overlapping and sometimes conflicting rules. The Arkansas Legislative Council’s Executive Subcommittee directed this comprehensive review, which is set to conclude with a report by October 1, 2024. This study was motivated by feedback from Second Amendment activists and county sheriffs who have called for a task force to help eliminate confusion surrounding gun laws. The study aims to cover a wide range of issues, including firearms instructors’ qualifications, marksmanship standards for concealed carry instructors, and the interaction between state and federal gun laws.

Legislative Changes in 2023

Several key legislative changes were made in 2023, focusing on concealed carry laws and the rights of specific groups of individuals:

  • Act 30: This act allows individuals who have sought voluntary mental health treatment to acquire a concealed carry license, with the stipulation that at least two years have passed since the completion of their treatment. This modification aims to balance the importance of mental health support with the rights of individuals to carry firearms for self-defense.
  • Act 757: To align gun laws with medical treatment rights, Act 757 grants concealed carry licenses to medical marijuana patients and their designated caregivers, ensuring that these individuals are not excluded from the rights afforded to other citizens.
  • Act 777: Perhaps the most significant change, Act 777 clarifies that Arkansans are not required to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun within the state, marking a move towards permitless carry. This act is designed to ensure that the state’s gun laws are in line with the constitutional carry principle, affirming the right of individuals to carry firearms for self-defense without the need for a government-issued permit. It’s important to note that while a license is no longer required for carrying a concealed handgun in Arkansas, obtaining one might still be beneficial for reciprocal carry in other states where a permit is required.

These legislative efforts and the ongoing study reflect Arkansas’s commitment to supporting the Second Amendment rights of its citizens while seeking to simplify and clarify the legal framework surrounding gun ownership and carry rights. As these changes are implemented and the results of the study are published, Arkansas’s gun laws will likely continue to evolve in ways that support responsible gun ownership and use.

Recent Arkansas Court Cases

The case of Jamie Taff v. State of Arkansas (2018) addressed an instance where Jamie Taff was initially stopped by law enforcement due to a report of him acting suspiciously and carrying a pistol. The Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision, finding the initial stop to constitute an unconstitutional seizure. The court held that merely possessing a weapon is not a crime in Arkansas without an unlawful intent to employ it as a weapon against a person. This ruling emphasized the need for law enforcement to have reasonable suspicion based on specific and articulable facts to justify a seizure under the Fourth Amendment​. For more detailed information, you can view the full case summary here.

In Jesse W. Pettry v. State of Arkansas (2020), the Arkansas Court of Appeals addressed Pettry’s conviction under a statute prohibiting “carrying a weapon” after he was arrested with a handgun in his pocket. The court ultimately reversed and dismissed the case, concluding that the State did not sufficiently prove Pettry’s intent to unlawfully employ the handgun as a weapon against a person, a necessary element under the statute. This decision highlights the importance of specific intent in cases involving weapon possession in Arkansas. For more details on this case, you can read the full summary .

Buying and Owning a Firearm in Arkansas

In Arkansas, you do not need a permit to buy or own a handgun, a rifle, or a shotgun. However, if you have been convicted of a felony and determined to have mental incapacity or were ever committed to a mental facility, you are not allowed to own or buy a firearm. Additionally, it is against the law to provide a firearm to anyone under the age of 18 without permission from their parent or legal guardian.

You are restricted from having a gun in your vehicle for the sole purpose of using it against another person. In other words, it’s okay to transport a firearm to a shooting range or hunting trip but not with the intention of using it for a crime. You also can’t have a gun on any school or college property or a school bus.

Arkansas Concealed Gun Laws

If you obtain a proper license, you are allowed to carry a concealed handgun in Arkansas. You’ll need to apply for this license at the State Police offices. There you’ll be asked to provide personal contact information. In addition, you’ll be required to submit to a background check performed by the FBI. You will need to be at least 21 years old and a resident of Arkansas for at least one year. You’ll also have to pass a handgun safety training course sponsored by the Arkansas State Police.

The same general firearm restrictions apply to obtaining a concealed carry license. You can not be a convicted felon or certified mentally unstable person. You can also be denied a concealed carry license if you have gone through any alcohol or substance abuse treatment program in the previous three years. You also can’t have been convicted of carrying any type of firearm in the past five years.

Even with the concealed carry license, there are still restrictions. You are not allowed to carry a concealed handgun into any police or State police station, any courthouse or jail, any restaurant or bar that serves alcohol, any state office building, any place of worship or any airport terminal.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Arkansas forbids the carrying of a handgun in Your vehicle unless You have a valid permit to carry, are on Your property, are a licensed security guard acting in the course of Your duties, are driving to or from a hunting area with the intent of hunting with a handgun, or You are a prosecuting attorney with valid authorization.

Self-defense Laws

Arkansas has a Castle Doctrine law but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when attacked in Your home or curtilage, but there is a duty to retreat in all other places. You may use deadly force in self-defense if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death or SBI, a forcible felony, or an act as part of a pattern of domestic abuse that is imminently endangering Your life or about to victimize You.

Reciprocal Carry

As of 8/16/13, Arkansas permits anyone who is at least 21 years old and not prohibited from owning a firearm to carry a handgun without a permit, openly or concealed. However, Arkansans must obtain a concealed carry permit for purposes of reciprocal carry.

By statute, Arkansas will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes Arkansas license:

“(a) Any person in possession of a valid license issued by another state to carry a concealed handgun issued to the person by another state is entitled to the privileges and subject to the restrictions prescribed by this subchapter if the state that issued the license to carry a concealed handgun recognizes a license to carry a concealed handgun issued under this subchapter.

(b) The Director of the Department of Arkansas State Police shall: (1) Make a determination as to which states’ licenses to carry concealed handguns will be recognized in Arkansas and provide that list to every law enforcement agency within the state; and (2) Revise the list from time to time and provide the revised list to every law enforcement agency in this state.”

Since there is no national carry license, as with the other states, some states are reciprocal with Arkansas and some are not. Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Arkansas State Police at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. States add and delete states with reciprocity agreements over time.

Open Carry

There has been a lot of confusion and debate over the legality of open carry in Arkansas. In 2018, the Arkansas Court of Appeals issued an opinion settling the debate and ending that confusion. In the case titled Jamie Taft v. State of Arkansas, No. CR-18-353, the Arkansas Court of Appeals stated “[m]erely possessing a weapon is not a crime in the State of Arkansas.” The Arkansas Court of Appeals reached this conclusion by interpreting Ark. Code § 5-73-120(a). This interpretation is consistent with that of the Arkansas AG, which issued an Opinion on Ark. Code § 5-73-120(a) several years prior. However, this is still subject to the specified restrictions in the “Criminal Provisions” above.

Additional Arkansas Gun Laws

It is against the law in Arkansas to intentionally remove any serial number or other identifying mark on a firearm. Also, it is against the law to own any firearm with those numbers or markings removed. You can’t shoot your weapon across a public road. If your firearm is considered to be a replica or antique, the same rules apply.

If you intend to own an automatic weapon, that firearm needs to be registered with the Arkansas Secretary of State. You’ll also have to register that type of weapon with the federal government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).

FAQs on Gun Laws Arkansas

Can I carry a gun without a permit in Arkansas?

No, it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm in Arkansas without a valid Concealed Handgun Carry License (CHCL). By the Arkansas carrying laws, anyone wishing to possess a firearm outside of their home or place of business must obtain a permit from the Arkansas State Police.

Does Arkansas have strict gun laws?

Yes, the state of Arkansas has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the US. To purchase a firearm one must pass background checks and be at least 21 years of age. Furthermore, there are restrictions on where firearms can be carried and how they can be stored.

What is the 777 law in Arkansas?

The ‘777’ law, also known as The Church Protection Act, was passed in 2013. This law states that an individual may use physical force against another person if they reasonably believe it necessary to prevent serious injury or death while attending church services.

Where can you not carry a gun in Arkansas?

Carrying a firearm is prohibited in some public places such as schools, government buildings, and churches. In addition, no one can carry a gun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What is the 5 16 102 law in Arkansas?

Arkansas Code § 5-16-102 (2020) provides legal protection for individuals against intrusions on their privacy. This law states that it is illegal for a person to look into the dwelling of another individual if: (A) they are doing so with the intention of interfering with a person’s right to privacy; (B) they are looking into a part of the dwelling where a person is present; and (C) the person present has a reasonable expectation of privacy in that location. Violating this law can result in criminal charges being brought against the offender.

What is the castle law in Arkansas?

The Castle Law allows an individual to defend themselves and others using physical force in their home or vehicle should they feel threatened by an intruder. This law gives individuals the right to protect themselves and their belongings without fear of prosecution.

Can you have a loaded gun in your vehicle in Arkansas?

Yes, you can have a loaded gun in your vehicle in Arkansas as long as it is secured in an enclosed case or holster. Carrying a concealed weapon within your car must be done with a valid CHCL.

Can I carry my gun around without a license?

No, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a valid CHCL. Obtaining a permit requires completing an application process with the Arkansas State Police including background checks and passing various safety course requirements.

Do you have to register a gun in Arkansas?

Yes, all guns must be registered with the state police before they can be legally carried, bought, sold, or transferred. Furthermore, all handguns must be registered with the local sheriff’s department prior to being taken into possession.

What disqualifies you from owning a gun in Arkansas?

Certain convictions such as felonies and violent misdemeanors will make you ineligible for owning and possessing firearms in the state of Arkansas. Additionally, anyone found guilty of drug offenses or who has been discharged from the military dishonorably may not own a gun.

Can you own an unregistered gun in Arkansas?

No, it is illegal to possess an unregistered firearm in Arkansas. All firearms must be properly registered with either the local sheriff’s department or the state police depending on the type of gun.

What do I need to buy a gun in Arkansas?

To purchase a firearm in Arkansas, one must be at least 21 years of age and provide valid identification. Additionally, buyers must pass an approved background check and meet other requirements such as taking a safety course as mandated by the state.

1 thought on “Arkansas Gun Laws”

  1. This needs revision. Arkansas Law has changed in recent years.
    Act 746, Act 777, SR18, HB1013, Taffy v Arkansas, Pettry v Arkansas


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