Paragould Arrest Could Trigger “Test Case” For Act 746

img_2276Mason Brannon of Paragould was arrested on March 1st for carrying a firearm without a concealed carry permit. Brannon’s arrest, and his pending prosecution, could serve as the first “test case” of Act 746, which became law last year. However, the trial won’t be a walk in the park for Prosecutor Scott Ellington — because Act 746 imposes a new, and especially high, burden of proof on the state. Thanks to Act 746, possession of a firearm is no longer a crime in Arkansas.
Under the act, which has been codified under ACA 5-73-120,

A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun…

That means Ellington (or any other prosecutor faced with a similar case) will have to prove that the accused had an intent to “unlawfully employ” or use the handgun. How would you prove something like that? I have no idea, so I contacted Ellington’s office last week to gain some insight. I was promised a call back, but as of press time, I have not received one.
I did speak, however, with Brannon’s attorney, Shane Ethridge of Hot Springs. He summarized the arrest this way:

The police report says an anonymous person told the officers Mason had a gun at a store. They remembered he had a warrant for failure to pay on a seat belt ticket — went to get him on the seat belt warrant — found the gun — charged him with carrying a weapon.

Ethridge himself has apparently had difficulty getting a response from Ellington, so he provided this brief summary of the case:

There’s really not much to it as far as what is there and what isn’t there from what I can gather. He wasn’t open carrying. But he didn’t have a CCHL. I have attempted to contact the prosecutor and haven’t received a response to this point, but certainly understand it is a big judicial district and the trial date is a ways off so I suspect there will be talk between now and then.

Ethridge said that, as far as he knows, there are no prohibitions on carrying a firearm in the store where the arrest was made.
Finally, I asked Ethridge if he thought there was any chance that the charges might be dropped:

The Sheriff of Greene County has indicated to me that he intends to push forward for prosecution of the case. I do not believe the charge will be dropped.

(By the way, I had my own interaction with the Greene County Sheriff today. He told me that he’d require $10 in order to comply with my public information request and that he would only supply the documents if I arrived in person. I am fairly certain these demands constitute a violation of the state’s Freedom Of Information Act. We’re working to see if we can get this sorted out, but in the meantime, this cellphone pic of the second page of Brannon’s arrest report will have to do. Update, 4/23/14: the sheriff’s office has reluctantly released these documents that are related to Brannon’s arrest.)
The trial date is tentatively set for June 9th, but it may be moved, according to Ethridge. We will certainly be following further developments.

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15 thoughts on “Paragould Arrest Could Trigger “Test Case” For Act 746

  • April 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm
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    It’s going to be a true foot in the door either way. Just had to be another standing warrant, but it seems the Greene County Sheriff is NOT on the side of the angles!
    As long as he was just shopping and not holding up the store he seems to be clean. Let all of us pray for all those involved and may all OUR RIGHTS win out.
    Yours in service
    James Acerra
    Owner/Gunsmith/Armorer
    ACE’S DUGOUT

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  • April 23, 2014 at 10:05 am
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    I could just imagine what the local news said: The top one most wanted in the county was arrested today by the one man swat team. He was arrested for not paying his seat belt fine and carrying a firearm. The prosecutor feels that the severity of the charge might have made the defendant mentally unstable and unlawfully employ his firearm. Seat belt crime is highly feared and the Sheriff was quoted, without knowing the mic was still on, “if it was up to me he would keep him in jail for 30 years. This is Bob Boogers for Light My Fart Arkansas, local news.

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    • April 24, 2014 at 8:58 am
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      Sounds like Bob Boogers has mental issues. Someone needs to replace him.

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  • April 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm
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    Act 746 affects two sections, 5-73-119, and 5-73-120. Sec. 119 involves the possession of a firearm by a minor or on school property. Act 746 actually limited the “journey” to journeys out of the county, so it appears the state limited the exceptions. Since 119 applies to minors and school properties, I’m not sure how the journey exception would apply in this case.
    Sec. 120 is the crime of “carrying” a weapon. Act 746 added the requirement for the state to prove the person attempted to unlawully employ the wepon, when in the old law the unlawful intent was not present. Other laws may (and do) curtail gun use, but the new sec. 120 does not make Carrying a crime unless there is an unlawful intent to employ the weapon. So those who say Act 746 allows the open carry of weapons, I would agree as long as the person does not attempt to unlawfully employ the weapon. The four corners of the document do not appear to suggest anything else.
    Here’s where the bill may have erred. Under the old law, Sec. 120 provided an exception to the crime of Carrying if at the time of carrying, the person was in their home, or fell under the many exceptions in 120(c). Now, only the carrying of a handgun is a defense. In other words, if you unlawfully attempt to employ your shotgun, knife or club as a weapon in your home, it’s still Carrying. And many of those exceptions that were available to law enforcement officers that are no longer available for anything other than a handgun.

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  • April 24, 2014 at 1:37 am
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    The fact is that law enforcement no longer go after the real criminal they go after the working man or woman because the criminal cannot pay just watch (kait) they now go after the working man or woman because, what they will do,if by chance they get pulled over or stopped and arrested or cited they do not become a ward of the state,they pay there fine and bond out,if need be,just so they can go back to work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! where as those that do not,are either on welfare or do not work!!!!!!!!! then the state has to pay for keeping them plus food and also Med.care and just by chance they want to go to school that’s on the taxpayer also !!!!!!!!!!! back in the old days when you were on the trail you had to worry about BANDITS!!!!!! now they have a gun and a license to do it legally !!!!! Just look at those fighting for there land and livestock !!!!!!

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    • May 2, 2014 at 2:48 am
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      i have worked with this guy he has always had a gun on him and says he has cchl when he doesn’t he let a house burn down just to let it burn says so much sh** his eyes are brown he is the one person on this earth who does not need a gun or needs to be around guns even toy guns

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  • April 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm
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    They don’t have to prove the guys “intentions” when they have proof of what he did. The guy yelling fire in the crowded theater can say it was just an exercise of his 1st amendment rights and he didn’t intend to cause panic but he did. No defense, case closed guy guilty.

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    • April 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm
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      Apparently Jack, you didn’t read the new provision that was cited in the article or that Jay posted above: “for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun…”. So actually the police/prosecution does have the burden of proving the “intentions” of the defendant.
      Obviously there is no proof that Mr. Brannon was carrying the weapon with intent to unlawfully employ it, therefore his carrying of the weapon was legal. To use your First Amendment analogy, this would be akin to arresting a movie goer entering the theater because the police believe he had the intention of yelling “fire” while in the theater.

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  • April 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm
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    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
    Hmmm let’s see was he apart of a militia to protect the United States from invaders? Probably NOT
    Was the Free State in Jeopardy? Probably NOT
    So he was just walking around sporting a firearm scaring the hell out of the rest of society? Probably so.
    GUILTY AS SIN

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    • April 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm
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      HaHaHa, are you serious?

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    • April 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm
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      Jack Jones has just proven himself an uneducated, immature, adolescent, lazy fool!

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    • May 21, 2014 at 4:40 am
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      IF he was between the ages of 18 and 45, he is in the Militia. It’s defined as the Unregulated Militia, and every male is… It’s in the constitution.

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  • April 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm
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    Jack, the law says they have to prove intent.
    Arkansas Code § 5-73-120
    5-73-120. Carrying a weapon.
    (a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she
    possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.
    If they can’t prove unlawful intent, they can’t prove their case. Period.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm
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    Militia pertained to all men from 18 to 45 in all 15 states and any newly added states you mindless twitt. See below
    During his first term as president, George Washington worked with Secretary of War Henry Knox to reorganize and strengthen the militia. They sent their plan to Congress, and after heated debate Congress, on May 9, 1792, passed what became known as the Uniform Militia Act (1 Stat. 264). This law, which remained the basic militia law until the twentieth century, stated that all free, able-bodied white men, age 18 to 45, were required to serve in their state militias and that they were obligated to supply themselves with the appropriate firearms and equipment. The law provided certain specifications for how militia units were to be organized, but Congress left many details to the states and declined to include sanctions for states or individuals who failed to comply with the law. As a result, the act had little legal weight and served mostly as a recommendation to the states

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  • May 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm
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    what’s the issue about carrying an “emergency radio”? What is an “emergency radio” and when/where did carrying one become a crime?

    Reply

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