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Open vs. Concealed Carry Controversy in Arkansas

BENTON COUNTY, AR -- A state gun law is causing confusion for folks in Northwest Arkansas. The question is whether you can legally open carry or if weapons have to be concealed.
BENTON COUNTY, AR -- A state gun law is causing confusion for folks in Northwest Arkansas. The question is whether you can legally open carry or if weapons have to be concealed. Some believe that decision should be made by individual cities, but one county is asking state lawmakers to step in and clear up the controversy.

"I'm getting phone calls and there's confusion and I'd like to get it straightened out... One of my neighbors and others have approached me and say if we carry a concealed weapon and it's exposed, are we in trouble? If they go from Benton County to Washington County, are they okay?"

A gun law in Arkansas is drawing debate and Benton County Justice of the Peace and Legislative Committee member, Brent Meyers, is aiming for answers.

House Bill 1700 was amended last year and is now Act 746. While the document states it is legal to carry in Arkansas with appropriate intentions, it does not clearly specify if it's open carry or concealed carry that is legal and many gun owners want clarification.

"They've had rallies in quite a few different cities... Just say yes it's legal to carry an open weapon or no it's not legal, I mean that's pretty much what these people want."

Since the law does not outline how you can legally carry, Meyers says some folks are interpreting that to mean each city can decide whether to allow open or concealed carry. But Meyers believes that responsibility should not fall on Northwest Arkansas cities or counties. It is a state law, so he is asking lawmakers to take action.

"The way it stands right now, each jurisdiction is deciding whether it's legal to carry and it's up to, let's say, the sheriff or the chief of police or the mayor. If it's up to them to decide, there's confusion in the law. Clear it up... I've talked to some of the State Reps, they say they want to get it cleared up... They said it will happen and they're going to work on it in 2015."

There have been open carry walks around the state and, as far as we know, nobody has been arrested at those open carry walks. Even so, that does not necessarily mean it is legal to open carry which is why there needs to be some clarification.

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