A collection of patriotic Arkansans reclaimed their God-given constitutional rights this past weekend in Fort Smith. About 35 people showed up to an “open carry” march on Saturday, many of them openly displaying firearms to show support for Act 746, the state’s new constitutional carry law. The march went off without a hitch; local law enforcement were present and cooperative. State troopers also appeared, but left without disturbing the demonstrators. I talked with Chris Matthews, Executive Director of Arkansas Carry, to get a full rundown of Saturday’s activities:
Arkansas Carry’s first celebration walk raising awareness to Act 746 was held in Fort Smith, AR on Saturday. During the walk, most participants openly displayed a holstered firearm to show that carrying in that manner was legal under Act 746’s change to the weapons law regarding unlawful use and intent. The event was held on Massard Road just south of Zero Street with full cooperation with the Fort Smith Police Department. They had (2) two-man units patrolling the area to ease any public concerns and for our protection as well. Prior to the walk, Steve Jones, Chairman, addressed the supporters and gave some opening remarks and safety reminders. We had approximately 35 people walking in support of Act 746 at the at the height of the event while only 16 were officially invited. Several heard of the event from local media and a few passers-by saw us walking, parked, and joined us mid-walk. Along the way there were countless vehicles honking and waving in support of efforts. Multiple vehicles were parked along the roadside photographing, recording, and waving us on. We walked from Huntington Circle to Louisville Street and then turned back to the rally starting point, which was a little over 2 ½ miles. There were no hecklers or anyone that demonstrated any disapproval along the way.
Upon returning to the rally point, local news media was there to secure interviews which most participants gladly gave. According to a local paper, there were no calls or complaints received at the local 911 dispatch center regarding our walk. The Arkansas State Police did make a few passes by the walk but did not interact with any participants in any way. At no time did any law enforcement officers interfere with our walk. After a few pats on the back and some recapping of the momentous occasion, we jumped in our vehicles and left. Some members did make the drive to Waldron, AR to have an ‘open carry’ lunch at Charbroilers. There were no complications at that event as well. The waiter had asked what we were all gathering for and didn’t even notice our openly holstered weapons until it was pointed out to her.
Matthews also passed along special thanks to local media and officials:
We would like to give a special thank you to Fort Smith PD, Charbroilers in Waldron, the friendly local news media (40/29 excluded), and the Arkansas State Police. The walk went as well as we could have possibly hoped for. Arkansas Carry is planning future awareness walks in locations to be announced.
Also of note: State Representative Charlotte Vining Douglas (R-Alma) attended the event and walked with the group. She was the only sitting legislator in attendance. Rep. Douglas was a cosponsor of Act 746; perhaps it’s safe to assume she agrees that Act 746 legalizes open carry.
Act 746 has been in effect for over a week now. People have been open carrying all over the state. So far, there have been exactly zero reports of shootings, blood running in the streets, or even a resurgence of the “wild, wild west” as opponents of open carry often claim will occur. In fact, it seems that law-abiding citizens are doing exactly what they’ve always done: follow the law. Whodathunkit?
To see more pictures from Saturday’s march, visit Arkansas Carry’s Facebook page.