Effective July22, 2015, Arkansas concealed carry permit holders will be able to take their firearms into municipal park property. But there’s a catch; their handguns must remain in their vehicles, and be stored and locked concealed, if left unattended.
Act 1078, passed during the 2015 spring legislative session, amends two different weapons statutes, along with changes to the Arkansas Concealed Handgun Licensing law’s “Prohibited Places” list. These amendments loosen up restrictions on carrying in vehicles on any publicly owned and maintained parking lots, including public K–12 schools and state college and university areas designated for parking. This alteration in the law will also take in “designated drop-off zones”, where children are let out for the school day. As with the parks, firearms may be stored inside unattended vehicles at schools and other public parking lots.
Other Arkansas gun law changes set to take effect on July 22nd are:
Act 105: Minimum age exception for 18 year-old CHCL applicants that are on active duty in Arkansas or a member of the National Guard or a former member of the Armed Forces that has been honorably discharged. This age waiver is not available for online applicants, and corroborating documents must be mailed to the Arkansas State Police.
Act 649: Allows a person who is a “permanent legal resident” of the United States to apply for a CHCL. Due to a U.S. District Court ruling in Pot v. Witt, being a U.S. citizen is no longer a requirement for a concealed carry permit applicant in Arkansas. Act 649 also removed the residence requirement exception for retired city, county, state or federal law enforcement who applies for a CHCL.
Act 933: In the “Prohibited Places” listing for CHCL permit holders, an exception was created for privately-owned schools (K-12) to set forth the rules and circumstances under which a licensed person my carry into the school’s buildings or events.
Act 1175: Removes election polling places from the list of prohibited places. The State Police have stated that some places may still be off-limits, if they display the proper signage.
Act 1259: Expands the boundaries of courthouse property that is a prohibited place to carry a concealed weapon. Act 1259 also creates exceptions to this expanded boundary for licensed employees and elected officials of the county, if approved by the county court.
These amendments to loosen restrictions on the right to bear arms in Arkansas are good news; combined with the fact that Act 746 was not changed at all resulted in a good legislative year for state gun rights advocates.
There is, however, lots more work to be done.