KAIT in Jonesboro, Arkansas, is reporting that Jonesboro police chief Rick Elliott and city attorney Carol Duncan will “follow the law as it is written”. In their prepared statement, however, they made many claims that were either legally wrong or may lead them to be inviting a few losing open carry lawsuits.
One claim concerns arrest for “Disorderly Conduct”. The city officials said:
“…if you chose(sic) to open carry a handgun within the city limits of Jonesboro, you may under certain circumstances, expect to be contacted by a police officer. If your actions are causing public alarm, you will be contacted and may be subject to arrest under Arkansas Code Annotated 5-71-207 for Disorderly Conduct.”
The Arkansas Disorderly Conduct law is very specific, and it doesn’t list carrying a handgun in the open as cause for arrest under this law. If a person is only open carrying and does not intentionally have a “…purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm or recklessly creating a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm”, then that person is not breaking the Disorderly Conduct law of Arkansas. It is possible that the City of Jonesboro will be inviting a Second Amendment lawsuit such as one that happened in Wisconsin in 2012 if a person is falsely arrested while simply exercising this right. A $30,000 paycheck would be worth getting arrested for disorderly conduct in Jonesboro, I believe.
The chief and city attorney also stated:
“If you currently hold a conceal carry handgun license, you are required to carry concealed under the rules, regulations and laws pertaining to that license which begin in A.C.A 5-73-301.”
There is no law that says a citizen is “required to carry concealed”. A.C.A. 5-73-315 does say that “Any licensee possessing a valid license issued pursuant to this subchapter may carry a concealed handgun.” This is hardly a requirement that licensees must hide their firearm. If a permit holder was always required to conceal their handgun, they would never be able to hunt or practice at the range with one. Permit holders are required, however, to carry their permits with them when concealing a firearm.
The KAIT reporter also said, “Both Elliott and Duncan believe if lawmakers had the intent of creating an “open carry” law in Arkansas, they would not have listed several exemptions in Act 746.” The listing that the city officials are speaking of are not “exemptions”; in fact, Act 746 changed the wording from “defense to a prosecution” to “permissible to carry a handgun”. This in effect changed the list to permissions. Author Representative Denny Altes’s intent when he wrote this was to help remove the ability to prosecute persons who were lawfully carrying and to give special permissions under the law, such as carrying a concealed weapon with a permit. I will admit, however, that this section needs to be cleaned up and older, redundant permissions (such as the journey code) be deleted.
Why are these city officials threatening disorderly conduct charges and giving the public misleading information? The modus operandi here reeks of Dustin McDaniel’s style of gun control— mislead the public and threaten with government force.
Thankfully, we have the state and federal constitutions and the courts to protect us from a tyrannical government.