Arkansas State Police Oppose Second Amendment

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Photo by Oleg Volk

The House Judiciary Committee heard HB1408, The Open Carry Act, this morning. Before the bill was presented, it was amended heavily to allow open carry only outside of incorporated cities. Another amendment also provided a protection for carriers who accidentally had their gun exposed.

During questioning on the accidental exposure amendment, Rep. John Walker posed this hypothetical: what if someone is at a sporting event and they trip and fall, accidentally exposing their gun? This could easily incite a riot, according to Rep. Walker. “When people see guns, they panic!” he said. Nicholas Stehle of Arkansas Carry, testifying on behalf of the amendment, said, “That is a very hypothetical scenario because in Arkansas, outside of shooting sport events, concealed carry is not allowed at sporting events.” OK, glad we cleared that up.

Then the real fun began: as testimony was opened up, Arkansas State Police Director Stan Witt appeared to testify against the bill. After his comments, Rep. Bob Ballinger asked Mr. Witt why he was there testifying because it was his understanding that the ASP was not taking a position on this bill. “What changed?,” Rep. Ballinger asked. Mr. Witt said, “I can’t really tell you how long we were aware. I was just made aware of it this morning.” Asked when they decided to take a position, Witt said:

I…uh…I can’t tell you that. I just read the bill this morning and we had a discussion at our department.

In his testimony, Witt said the ASP opposes the bill due to safety concerns — not your safety, the safety of state policemen:

We oppose this bill because of officer safety reasons. Often time officers encounter suspects with guns and they have to make split second decisions. Sometimes..those seconds are critical. If a person is allowed to open carry, we feel like that would cause an officer to have to pause to wonder if that person is legally carrying or not and that those critical seconds could cost an officer his life.

Why is someone with a gun automatically a suspect? I thought we had agreed on that whole idea of “innocent until proven guilty” and the principle of “probable cause?” If there is probable cause to suspect someone carrying a gun, is it too much work for an officer to ask that person to provide their license?

You would think law enforcement officers would prefer to have citizens carrying openly so they know who is armed. Perhaps he’s been in the office too long…

More from Witt:

Another concern is if we respond to a situation where gunshots are involved and we get there and there’s several others with open carry, how long is it going to take us to find out who the bad guy is?

I tend to think that the gun bearers who have stuck around for the police to arrive are most likely law-abiding citizens — citizens who will willingly cooperate with police and provide their licenses when asked. At the end of the day, 2nd amendment advocates can’t assume that all of the consequences of open carry will be good, so let’s not be naive: there could be instances where there is a mix up between good guys and bad guys. As it stands, the bad guys currently have an advantage.

When asked if the amendment to make the bill only apply to rural areas changed his position, Mr. Witt quipped, “No sir, I don’t think there’s a difference.”

Following Mr. Witt, JR Hankins of the Highway Police division also spoke against the bill. This was by far his most memorable comment:

Most people that carry guns like this are good, honest people, but occasionally, you get that radical person out there that we also must deal with that thinks you’re infringing on their Second Amendment rights. So that can cause some tension between law enforcement and the people who actually wear these things.

Ah yes, the nefarious Arkansas citizen that values their constitutional rights — quite a dangerous specimen, no doubt. I guess instead of allowing them to exercise those rights, the state should just squash them. After all, we don’t want people thinking they’re entitled to liberty or anything.

Isn’t it amazing that the 44 states that allow open carry have not been eviscerated, ceasing to exist from all of the law-abiding citizens running around shooting people? Has Mr. Hankins never been to Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, or Oklahoma? All of these states allow open carry — is there blood running in their streets?

When asked about the importance of female joggers and others being able to carry for safety, Hankins said he carries while he jogs — because he’s a police officer — but he keeps his in his fanny pack. It would seem as though Mr. Hankins thinks he is allowed to security, but average Arkansans are not.

(Keep in mind: these Arkansas State Police administrators are presiding over a state that has a city now ranked as the 2nd most dangerous in the nation. Clearly, they are experts.)

Meanwhile, Red Lobster and several of their customers got robbed in Little Rock last night. Wouldn’t it have been swell if there had been an armed lawful citizen there? To echo the words of a member of the River Valley Gun Club who testified on behalf of the bill today: “We’re not your problem.”

The fundamental question of this debate is simple: do the police exist to protect our rights or to dictate our rights? Mr. Witt and Mr. Hankins appear to believe that the police have a better understanding of what our rights should be and are better able to protect us than we are able to protect ourselves. I believe this is a fundamental misunderstanding of our American ideals. Will the consequences of open carry always be good? No. In a free society, as in a draconian society, bad things happen. But do the benefits outweigh the cost? Is our freedom and right to self-defense worth the risk? Undoubtedly, the answer is ‘yes.’

Ultimately, the bill failed to clear committee, receiving only 9 ‘yea’ votes. Kudos to Rep. Ballinger and the bill’s sponsor Rep. Sue Scott for requesting a roll call vote. You can see the vote tally here.

Stay tuned to TheArkansasProject.com — I’ll be posting an interview with Arkansas Carry about today’s developments. In the meantime, you can check out the video of the entire hearing here on the House website.

Comments

  1. Are all the State Police testimony this Idiotic!! I think the average Arkansan has more sense than any of these testifying.

  2. Clay Cooper says:

    Why are we allowing State Police Director Stan Witt, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Arkansas Association of Police Chiefs play Chicago Politics here in Arkansas?

  3. Clay Cooper says:

    The fact of the mater is the Supreme Court ruling said Law Enforcement is not accountable for your personal protection, only for enforcing the law….

    I’ve assisted Law Enforcement at all levels in “OPEN CARRY” States and we never had a problem.

    “A number of African-American activists are spoke out against gun control laws currently being proposed. They explain the direct correlation betweeen “gun control” and the same types of control”

    “For those of us fighting for our traditional rights, the US 2nd Amendment is a rare light in an ever darkening room. Governments will use the excuse of trying to protect the people from maniacs and crime, but are in reality, it is the bureaucrats protecting their power and position.”

    Luby Massacre Survivor to Senate: I’m not a Victim of Guns, But of Lawmakers Who ‘Legislated Me Out of the Right to Protect Myself and My Family’

    A for myself, I’ve been a victim once, never again !

  4. Clay Cooper says:

    To State Police Director Stan Witt, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Arkansas Association of Police Chiefs.

    What part of the Constitution you folks just don’t understand. For decades, Arkansas Officers have run roughshod over peoples constitutional rights and making false statements and I say, NO MORE!

  5. Clay Cooper says:

    As for the statement, “Most people that carry guns like this are good, honest people, but occasionally, you get that radical person out there that we also must deal with that thinks you’re infringing on their Second Amendment rights. So that can cause some tension between law enforcement and the people who actually wear these things.”

    I dealt with individuals like this all the time and a real provisional Lawman would deescalate the situation instead of escalating it or perhaps try switching to decaf!

  6. JW Chenault says:

    I live in Louisiana, formally of Arkansas and here is the way I look at open carry. Sometimes I do it sometimes I don’t because of different places I may be in. When I go hunting I carry a pistol on my hip in sight. If I go to a gas station I don’t cover up or take it off. Never had a problem. If i go out to eat, I conceal carry and here is why. If someone where to come in checking out the place preparing to rob it, and they see me, this could deter them or they may determine that I be the first one they take out. I like my element of surprise that gives me the chance to defend myself if need be. I would be willing to bet that 99.9% of people that would be open carrying would not give Police any trouble if a problem were to arise. My LEO friends here in La tell me that they don’t worry much about the people that open carry. They are the ones who will be the most willing to comply to instruction if need be.

  7. Jim SF_Ret says:

    These are the same guys who bully my conservative candidate because he just might beat their candidate. They question me when I don’t donate in an unfriendly manner.

    Just don’t support their organizations.

  8. Darrell Null says:

    I will remember those comments the next time someone calls asking for donations for the FOP and ASP. I have donated to both of them in the past because I wanted to help their programs, but American citizens rights are more important to me than giving money to them. NO MORE!!!

  9. I agree as a former police officer the state police are out touch. If shots are fired in a public place I would be glad to know some one else would be there to protect and serve. I say let the troopers stick to chasing speeders and leave gun control to the real citizen’s

  10. John Creager says:

    If the state police cannot support our Constitution, why do they raise their right hand and swear to defend it. Mr Witt has lied, time to remove him!

  11. I think that if there were an “incident” involving gunshots, the ones standing around with their guns exposed are going to be the good guys, cos the one with the smoking gun is going to toss it and run, wouldn’t u think?

  12. Let me put some light on this. My ssg in the national gaurd had to save a police officer and thanks to him having his ar 15 in his truck he was the last person the officer saw. People need to lookup laws for the state they live in. You can carry in your truck or car acording to the Jacob law

  13. The ASP Director stated, he had only learned about Bill that morning, do you suppose his boss the Guv may have called him and said “get down to the Capitol and stop this bill”

  14. I find it funny that the police carry openly and call it a deterrent to criminals and it makes for easier access to their weapon if needed.. hmmm… guess us Citizens aren’t as free as the police and the Congressional committee are to go about our days living a Constitutionally free life. This is a bogus scare from the left again. We carry openly around our officers.. they appreciate that we are willing to show we are armed and that they know who we are … They are far more paranoid when they deal with someone that may have a hidden weapon.. I fail to see the reason for panic when someone is carrying. .

  15. Does the Committee nor Mr. Hankins realize that Arkansas is a Stop and ID State? Any person for any reason can be stopped and asked to provide ID at any time and any place. This was and to the best of my knowledge is still taught in CCL class. Mr. Hankins should know that and any “radicals’ would have to comply with the law.

    When seconds count, the police will be there in a few minutes…

  16. Gerald Hines says:

    These two dipwads are puppets of Beebee,whose jobs are on the line if they come out for open carry.

  17. So coming from the recently fired trooper for not lying about an affair and being fired for my actions….strange how they lie in public to the whole state but get to keep there jobs…hummm. I was told its against policy to engage in that activity while on duty yet never got paid for that hour while on lunch. Is this the loop holes that the state police jump through and cover up. I guess troopers under the finger of the politics goes further than what the people want and need. Never did I treat anyone unfairly or unjust. Sexual harassment’s shootings drugs fatal car wrecks bribes gifts. Guess mine was not extreme enough to keep me around.

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  1. [...] in committee, and I could tell you what happened but Nicholas Horton was there and wrote this post here on it. However I will say that the main thing that affected it was Arkansas State Police Director [...]

  2. [...] Arkansas. The bill was defeated after spokesmen for the state police testified against the bill (I chronicled these events here, in our most-read story of the session). Lovers of liberty were dismayed to see the first [...]

  3. [...] Arkansas. The bill was defeated after spokesmen for the state police testified against the bill (I chronicled these events here, in our most-read story of the session). Lovers of liberty were dismayed to see the first [...]