........... from The Arkansas Project website (TheArkansasProject.com)
The Greatest Untold Story of the 89th General Assembly
April 23, 2013Nic Horton
Act 746 makes two significant changes to gun laws in Arkansas. The first is perhaps the most significant. Under Arkansas law, Arkansans are allowed to carry a firearm unobstructed, without a license, while on a “journey.” Some gun advocates have long said that because of this law, open, unlicensed carry has always been legal in Arkansas. I know folks who have carried a firearm — concealed — without a license under this statute. Since a “journey” was never defined in the law, you could travel wherever you liked and if you were stopped by law enforcement, you could always say, “Well, I’m on a journey.” Other laws, such as the concealed carry statute, suggested that this interpretation of the journey law is incomplete at best. However, Act 746 puts that argument to rest by defining, for the first time, what a journey actually is. Under this act, the scope of a journey is defined as extending “beyond the county in which the person lives.” If you travel outside of your county of residence in Arkansas, you can now legally carry a firearm without a license. Needless to say, this is big news.
The second big change brought about by Act 746 is in regard to criminal intent. Under previous Arkansas law, prosecutors who wanted to prove criminal possession only had to meet a minimal requirement: they were only required to demonstrate that a person in possession of a gun intended to use it against a person. The revision in Act 746 requires that prosecutors demonstrate a gun owner intended to use their firearm against a person “unlawfully.” This clarification is important because it appears to give immunity to those who would use their firearm against a person in self-defense. Previously, this kind of gun possessor would remain vulnerable to prosecution under the law.
Nicholas Stehle of Arkansas Carry said his group was surprised by the bill:
We were caught by surprise with HB1700. We understand that it was fully vetted by the Arkansas State Police and the sheriffs and prosecutors in Arkansas. Though it doesn’t take effect until sometime in July, we believe it will have the practical effect of legalizing the carry of firearms for self-defense purposes in Arkansas.
The bill also contains a definition of the word “journey”, which is now defined as leaving your county. Therefore, a person would be able to carry under this law, in plain view or concealed, if they leave their home county.