This Saturday, members of Arkansas Carry, the state’s largest gun rights advocacy group, will host a “freedom walk” that will exercise their rights and show support for the recently enacted Act 746. The group believes that Act 746 legalizes both concealed and open carry without a permit. As part of the walk, members of the group will openly carry handguns.
According to Chairman Steve Jones, some media reports have left a false impression about the group’s intentions:
Contrary to what TheCityWire is reporting, the open carry walk in Ft. Smith is not being held to protest the latest Arkansas Attorney General opinion on the journey. The Ft. Smith open carry walk is taking place to show support for the recent change made to the definition of the “offense of carrying a weapon” in Act 746, and has nothing at all to do with the journey part of the code.
This freedom walk is about Arkansas trusting its citizens with their gun rights again, as 44 other states currently do.
Jones also said Arkansas Carry has been working closely with local officials to make sure their demonstration fully complies with city policy. In his statement, he praised local leaders:
In discussions with Fort Smith city officials and law enforcement, an agreement has been reached where all parties established that open carry was legal under this new definition. This freedom walk is not being held as an “in-your-face” protest; in reality it will be a celebration of newly-returned rights for the people of Arkansas by Act 746.
Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey, his department and the city prosecutor should be applauded for not taking sides and enforcing Act 746 as written. The FSPD is an outstanding example of professional law enforcement in Arkansas.
The City Wire has also reported statements from Chief Lindsey and Fort Smith Prosecutor John Settle that confirm Jones’s statement:
Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey said his department “would not enforce the terms of the Act” based on McDaniel’s opinion. Lindsey said he was told by John Settle, Fort Smith prosecuting attorney, that “just carrying it unconcealed is not enough” to cause an arrest. Lindsey told The City Wire that he and Settle’s view is that there has to be proof an “attempt to unlawfully use” a weapon against another person.
The walk will last for 2 miles and will take place this coming Saturday. In order to comply with city codes, the march is not open to the general public but will be limited to a few members of Arkansas Carry.
We’ll have a report on the march early next week.