Concealed Carry In Arkansas - What You Need To Know
Arkansas concealed carry regulations were altered in March of 2017 when House Bill 1249 was signed into law as Act 562, which created an enhanced concealed carry permit by fulfilling an additional eight hour training course.
Once enacted, this enhanced permit allows carrying a firearm on public university and college grounds, in government buildings, in the parking lot of the State Capitol Building and Justice Building, while in a motor vehicle on State Capitol grounds or in some bars that do not have written notice barring concealed weapons on the premises.
A permit is required for concealed carry in most circumstances, despite some vague language with Act 746 passed in 2013.
Arkansas Constitutional Carry Laws
It may seem that in Arkansas constitutional carry measures were enacted with Act 746, given that the language in the act stated "It is permissible to carry a handgun under this section if at the time of the act of carrying a weapon: … (4) The person is carrying a weapon when upon a journey, unless the journey through a commercial airport when presenting at the security checkpoint in the airport or is in the person's checked baggage and is not a lawfully declared weapon;..."
Journey was defined in the act as "travel beyond the county in which a person lives…"
So does that mean it's kosher to carry without a license while traveling? Well, the state's then attorney general, Dustin McDaniel, issued a controversial, non-binding opinion on exactly that in 2013.
"The laws requiring a license to carry a concealed handgun still have full force and effect. Nothing in Act 746, § 5-73-120(a), or this opinion is intended to suggest a person may carry a concealed handgun without a properly issued concealed-carry license," The attorney general said.
However, McDaniel went on to state it was his opinion that anyone traveling outside their county with a weapon, concealed or open carry, in a motor vehicle may do so without a license to carry a concealed handgun, but only while the weapon is inside the motor vehicle. Once they step out of the vehicle, the "journey" clause is no longer effective.
Concerning open carry, the gun owner must be carrying their handgun with no intent to unlawfully employ it, but concealed carry will require a license.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a slightly different opinion in 2015, but the language concerning concealed carry remained the same. "Nothing in Act 746, § 5-73-120(a), or this opinion is intended to suggest a person may carry a concealed handgun in public without a properly issued concealed-carry license. In fact, except during a journey, it is likely that the Arkansas Supreme Court would allow the presumption that a person who has flouted the concealed-carry regime in Arkansas law by possessing a concealed handgun without a concealed-carry license has the requisite unlawful intent for a violation of § 5-73-120(a)," Rutledge said.
So, for the time being, a concealed weapon license is required.
Getting An Arkansas Concealed Carry Permit
The Arkansas concealed carry permit application process can be completed either online or in paper, with the online application being the Arkansas State Police's preferred option.
The suggested online process:
- Locate a concealed handgun safety instructor
- Complete the safety training course, and pay their respective course fee (unregulated by the state)
- Within six months after completing that training course, apply online and pay the new license fee (according to the state police, age 64 or younger: $142.11 including both application and background fee, age 65 or older: $90.61 including both application and background fee)
- Fill out a fingerprint card (the state police suggest doing so at a local law enforcement agency, a private fingerprinting business or through the firearms safety instructor)
- Mail both the fingerprint card(s) and the completed training certificate from an Arkansas State Police-approved instructor to Arkansas State Police, CHCL Section, 1 State Police Plaza Drive. Little Rock, AR 72209
By law, the issuing authority has up to four months to process the application, but there may be an extension in rare cases if fingerprints must be resubmitted, there's incomplete criminal history information, not all the correct information was submitted (such as proof of citizenship if born outside the U.S.), the training certificate had expired or the applicant didn't respond to requests from the Arkansas State Police.
Completing a paper application will require all the same materials and stipulations, but, according to the state police website, has a slightly lower fee.
Renewing the application online will require a renewal training course, a fee of $62.80 (or $78.25 for late renewals the $60 renewal, a $15 late fee and a web fee of $3.25) and the prior concealed handgun carry license number. Renewing with a paper application will require photocopies of the handgun carry license and the driver's license, and if submitted late there will also be a $15 late fee.
If a license, which is valid for five years, is expired for more than six months, a new license application must be submitted instead.
There are about 14 specific requirements enumerated within §5-73-309 to qualify for the handgun license.
They boil down to whether or not the applicant is a U.S. citizen, is a state resident (with qualifying exceptions for an active duty Armed Forces member and their spouse), is 21 years old (unless they're at least 18 and also a current or honorably discharged member of the Armed Forces), has felony convictions, is mentally fit to carry a firearm and hasn't threatened suicide, is not prohibited by federal law from owning a firearm, does not chronically/habitually use controlled substances, has a legal reason to carry and defend themself with a handgun, has completed the training course and if they sign a statement of allegiance to the U.S. and Arkansas constitutions.
As per §5-73-319, anyone who becomes a resident of Arkansas and has a valid concealed carry permit from another state may apply with the Department of Arkansas State Police to transfer that permit to Arkansas. It would be valid for five years from the date of issuance.
The license, however, does not afford the right to carry everywhere within the state.
Arkansas Concealed Carry Restrictions
As previously mentioned, Act 562 allows for concealed carry in Arkansas within a few more locations like public universities, in government buildings,while in a motor vehicle or in the parking lot on State Capitol grounds, and in some establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages (except for those who post written notice otherwise) so long as the individual has a concealed carry endorsement under § 5-17 73-322(g), which will require an additional eight hour course.
Campus carry may have been enacted, but there are still several prohibited places listed under §5-73-306:
- Police stations
- Any Arkansas Highway Police Division of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department facility
- Any building or onto the grounds adjacent to any building of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, but this doesn't apply to rest areas
- Any portion of a Department of Correction or Department of Community Correction facility, prison, jail and parking lot
- Courthouses and courthouse annexes, unless the licensee is employed within them
- Courtrooms (unless you're a judge)
- Any meeting place of the governing body of any governmental entity
- Any General Assembly meeting or committee meeting
- State offices
- Athletic events unrelated to firearms
- K-12 buildings, facilities and premises, with an exception for certain private institutions allowing licensees to do so
- Churches, unless the church itself deems otherwise
- The passenger terminal of airports
- Federally prohibited locations
- At parades or demonstrations requiring a permit
- Locations that post at each entrance a written notice clearly readable ten feet away stating "carrying a handgun is prohibited."
Reciprocity standards tend to be fairly loose within Arkansas.
Arkansas Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Arkansas concealed carry reciprocity standards are defined under §5-73-321.
"A person in possession of a valid license 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," according to the statute.
This means that although all out-of-state permits are recognized, they are restricted to the laws within Arkansas.
When Arkansan concealed carriers travel throughout the U.S., they also must comply with other states' firearms laws. More than 30 states recognize the Arkansas permit, but be sure to resolve any questions with the respective state's issuing authority. This is not formal legal advice, nor a completely exhaustive guide to concealed carry within Arkansas.
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About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter in his final year of studying public relations and apparel at the University of Idaho.