It would be simpler to limit this to “Where can’t you carry a gun in Arkansas?”
Disclaimer: I’m not your attorney. This is not legal advice. Some of these concepts and positions I take are complicated and nuanced. Please speak with an attorney before carrying anywhere. If you have any questions about this blog, call Whitfield Hyman, our Fayetteville, Fort Smith, and Van Buren Criminal Defense Lawyer at (479) 782-1125.
I’m going to limit this blog post to just those who are not law enforcement officers, active duty military personnel, security guards in the employ of the state, and do not have a Concealed Handgun License or Enhanced Concealed Handgun License from Arkansas or a state with Arkansas reciprocity. Although the Arkansas Attorney General and a few police agencies disagree with me, you can legally open or concealed carry a firearm without a license in Arkansas.
I hope the courts eventually agree with me as well, as it is the only logical conclusion if you read the statute. I wish I could say that the danger of being arrested for open or concealed carry without a license has since been resolved; however, people are still getting arrested for this, usually in conjunction with other crimes. If you have been arrested for this, it is very possible you have a civil rights lawsuit against the officer or the department that arrested you.
Be aware that although you may be legally allowed to carry a firearm in a privately owned space, the owner can still request that you not enter while armed and request that you leave. If you do not comply, you are guilty of Trespassing.
Arkansas Code Annotated § 5-73-122 criminalizes carrying a firearm in publicly owned buildings or facilities for most people. In 2017, it was reduced from a Class D felony or Class A misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor. Class C Misdemeanors carry up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine, and court costs. Notably, this section was also changed in 2017 to permit “officers of the court” to carry in the courtroom or courthouse.
§ 5-73-306, Prohibited Places lists places where a Concealed Handgun License does not authorize you to carry a firearm. If you do not have a Concealed Handgun License, this is inapplicable, It is my belief that even if you do have a Concealed Handgun License this list is inapplicable, although the Attorney General and the State Police currently disagree, meaning you might have your concealed carry license revoked in the meantime as a result. Hopefully a court would agree with me and reinstate your license, but this is not a very developed area of law and only time will tell. This list of prohibited places includes churches, airports, bars, and places with a sign prohibiting carrying a handgun concealed. Most airports are publicly owned which would make it illegal to carry a firearm inside, and even if you can carry in a private airport under state law there are limitations under federal law that I will not go into here. Even if they do revoke your license
§ 5-73-119. Handguns–Possession on school property. This statute makes it a Class D felony to possess a firearm on the developed property of a school, a school bus, a school bus stop, and to “possess a handgun upon the property of any private institution of higher education or a publicly supported institution of higher education in this state on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to employ the handgun as a weapon against a person.”
It is a defense to carrying under this statute if:
“(1) The person is in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on property in which he or she has a possessory or proprietary interest, except upon the property of a public or private institution of higher learning;…
(5) The person is hunting game with a handgun or firearm that may be hunted with a handgun or firearm under the rules and regulations of the Arkansas State Game and Fish Commission or is en route to or from a hunting area for the purpose of hunting game with a handgun or firearm;…
(7) The person is on a journey beyond the county in which the person lives, unless the person is eighteen (18) years of age or less;
(8) The person is participating in a certified hunting safety course sponsored by the commission or a firearm safety course recognized and approved by the commission or by a state or national nonprofit organization qualified and experienced in firearm safety;
(9) The person is participating in a school-approved educational course or sporting activity involving the use of firearms;”
§ 5-73-127. Possession of loaded center-fire weapons in certain areas. This one is really complicated and does not apply to most people who are carrying about their day. I’ll post the entire text of this statute at the end of the blog and you can determine if this statute applies to you. The good part is, it is just a fine of $25-$500 plus court costs if you violate this section.
The highlights are that you can’t possess any loaded weapon except a shotgun in:
Some places in Baxter County, Benton County, Carroll County, Conway County, Garland County, Marion County, or a platted subdivision located in an unincorporated area (may be unconstitutional).
Here is a handy dandy shortlist that doesn’t include the § 5-73-127 restrictions:
|Publicly Owned Building||Legal if unloaded, depending on the building.
|State Capitol Grounds||Legal if unloaded.
|State Capitol Building||Illegal even if unloaded.
|Publicly Owned Facility||Municipally owned or maintained park, football field, baseball field, soccer field, or another similar municipally owned or maintained recreational structure or property. Legal if unloaded.
|Courtroom||Unless you are a law enforcement officer, officer of the court, bailiff, or any other person authorized by the court. Legal if a long gun, unloaded, and not a handgun. I think you would be arrested for contempt of court though.
|Courthouse||Unless you are a law enforcement officer, officer of the court, bailiff, or any other person authorized by the court. Legal if a long gun, unloaded, and not a handgun. I think you would be arrested for contempt though.
|The location of an administrative hearing.||The hearing has to be conducted by a state agency. Legal if unloaded.
|Public School||Illegal even if unloaded.
|Public Daycare||Legal if unloaded and not on the developed property of a k-12 or higher education.
|School Bus||Illegal even if unloaded.
|School Bus Stop||Has to be published by the school each year in order to be valid.
Illegal even if unloaded.
|On the developed property of a Private Institution of Higher Learning||Illegal even if unloaded
|On the developed property of a Public Institution of Higher Learning||Illegal even if unloaded.
|On the Developed Property of Public Institution of Higher Learning||Illegal even if unloaded.
|On the developed property of a k - 12 public school||Illegal Even if Unloaded.
|On the developed property of a k-12 private school||Illegal even if unloaded.
|Parking lot of a prison||Illegal
|Public or Private School parking lot||Illegal
*This unloaded gun exception only holds if the court determines that an unloaded gun is not a deadly weapon. They have made stranger rulings in the past. So carry in those areas at your own risk.
There are plenty of possible defenses to these charges that I won’t go into because they are experimental, so if you’re charged with one off these crimes call a criminal defense attorney. For example, the carrying a weapon statute 5-73-120 may conflict with the other statutes and make them obsolete. Also, accidentally and unknowingly bringing a gun into a publicly owned building may negate purpose, but I doubt it. Another example would be the “lesser of two evils” defense, which may be applicable if you rush into a prohibited place with your gun in order to stop an active shooter, or have a gun on your hip when you pull a baby out of a burning public building.
She says a lot of things in that opinion that are logically inconsistent and not backed up by case law or the statutes, you’ve been warned.
This is the last statute I promised to talk about that determines where you are allowed to carry in Arkansas:
A.C.A. § 5-7.C.3-127 § 5-73-127. Possession of loaded center-fire weapons in certain areas
(a) It is unlawful to possess a loaded center-fire weapon, other than a shotgun and other than in a residence or business of the owner, in the following areas:
(1) Baxter County:
(A) That part bounded on the south by Highway 178, on the west and north by Bull Shoals Lake, and on the east by the Central Electric Power Corporation transmission line from Howard Creek to Highway 178;
(B) That part of Bidwell Point lying south of the east-west road which crosses Highway 101 at the Presbyterian Church;
(C) That part of Bidwell Point lying west of Bennett’s Bayou and north of the east-west road which crosses Highway 101 at the Presbyterian Church;
(D) That part of Baxter County between:
(i) County Road 139 and Lake Norfork to the north and west;
(ii) County Road 151 and Lake Norfork to the north, west, and south in the Diamond Bay area;
(iii) The Bluff Road and Lake Norfork to the west;
(iv) John Lewis Road (Timber Lake Manor) and Lake Norfork to the west and south;
(v) The south end of County Road 91 south of its intersection with John Lewis Road and Lake Norfork to the south and east;
and (vi) County Road 150 from its intersection with County Road 93 south and Lake Norfork to the south and east but not east of County Road 93;
(2) Benton County:
(A) That part of the Hobbs Estate north of State Highway 12, west of Rambo Road, and south and east of Van Hollow Creek and the Van Hollow Creek arm of Beaver Lake;
(B) All of Bella Vista Village; and
(C) That part bounded on the north by Beaver Lake, on the east by Beaver Lake, on the south by the Hobbs State Management Area boundary from the intersection of State Highway 12 eastward along the boundary to its intersection with the Van Hollow Creek arm of Beaver Lake;
(3) Benton and Carroll Counties: That part bounded on the north by Highway 62, on the east by Highway 187 and Henry Hollow Creek, and the south and west by Beaver Lake and the road from Beaver Dam north to Highway 62;
(4) Conway County: That part lying above the rimrock of Petit Jean Mountain;
(5) Garland County: All of Hot Springs Village and Diamondhead;
(6) Marion County:
(A) That part known as Bull Shoals Peninsula, bounded on the east and north by White River and Lake Bull Shoals, on the west by the Jimmie Creek arm of Lake Bull Shoals, and on the south by the municipal boundaries of the City of Bull Shoals;
(B) That part of Marion County bounded on the north, west, and south by Bull Shoals Lake and on the east by County Roads 355 and 322 from their intersections with State Highway 202 to the points where they respectively dead-end at arms of Bull Shoals Lake;
(C) The Yocum Bend Peninsula of Bull Shoals Lake bounded on the north and east by Bull Shoals Lake, on the west by Pine Mountain and Bull Shoals Lake, and on the south by County Road 30; and
(D) Those lands situated in Marion County known as the Frost Point Peninsula, not inundated by the waters of Bull Shoals Lake, being more particularly described as follows:
(i) Section Six, Township Twenty North, Range Fifteen West, (Sec. 6–T.20 N.–R.15 W.), lying south of the White River channel;
(ii) Section One, Township Twenty North, Range Sixteen West, (Sec. 1–T.20 N.–R.16 W.); and
(iii) East Half of Section Two, Township Twenty North, Range Sixteen West, (E ½ Sec. 2–T.20 N.–R.16 W.); North Half of the Northeast Quarter of Section Eleven, Township Twenty North, Range Sixteen West (N ½ –NE ¼ Sec. 11–T.20 N.–R.16 W.); and
(7) A platted subdivision located in an unincorporated area.
(b) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to limit or restrict or to make unlawful the discharge of a firearm in defense of a person or property within the areas described in this section.
(c) A person who is found guilty or who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to violating this section is guilty of a violation and shall be fined no less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).
(d) This section does not apply to a:
(1) Law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duties;
(2) Discharge of a center-fire weapon at a firing range maintained for the discharging of a center-fire weapon; or
(3) Person possessing a valid concealed handgun license under § 5-73-301 et seq.”