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 for 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 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 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.
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 or 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 the 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 on 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 conceal carry license if you had 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 own property, are a licensed security guard acting in the course of Your duties, You 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.
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 pattern of domestic abuse that is imminently endangering Your life or about to victimize You.
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.
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, who 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).