This came to me via a newsletter I get from Grandview Outdoors and thought I'd pass it along....


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Billboards here beckon people to gun shows and political candidates vie for the affection of the National Rifle Association like cheerleaders trying to impress a high school quarterback.

Yet, in Arkansas, where firearms are hardly foreign, a proposal to air gun culture out in the open is facing blowback from some lawmakers, police and even Gov. Mike Beebe, who scored the NRA's blessing.

State Rep. Denny Altes, who sponsored a bill to allow the open carry of firearms, acknowledges the legislation has a slim chance of winning over his colleagues, gun-toting or otherwise, when it's up for consideration by a House committee on Tuesday.

"I've met so much resistance,'' Altes said. "It doesn't look like I'll get much done.''

Maybe it's the images that open carry laws conjure up: armed Wal-Mart shoppers and diners breakfasting on biscuits while weapons dangle from their hips.

Rep. James Ratliff, an Imboden Democrat who taught hunting safety classes for nearly three decades, said he has trouble picturing people wielding holstered guns as they hunt for milk and eggs in the grocery store.

"I'd hate to see it like in the Wild West days,'' Ratliff said.

Still, Ratliff, a member of the House committee that will take up the arms bill this week, isn't sure how he'll vote on the issue. Plenty of people in his northern Arkansas district are all for the open carry bill. But state police oppose open carrying, pointing to potential risks for law enforcement officers.

The veto-wielding governor has spoken out against open carrying, too, saying he doesn't want to walk around with a holstered gun for everyone to see.

"He doesn't see the benefit of it,'' Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said. "We have strong gun rights laws already.''

Steve Jones, the chairman of a pro-gun group called Arkansas Carry, doesn't agree.

"The right to bear arms means you can carry a firearm in the open,'' Jones said.

Altes, a gun-owning Republican based in Fort Smith, said his legislation won't change the places where guns — concealed or out in the open — are prohibited.

"If a guy is carrying to a football game now, he's breaking the law,'' Altes said. "My bill's not going to change that.''

Nor will it make for a more dangerous Arkansas, he said.

"The criminals, the felons, the drug users, they're not going to open carry,'' Altes said before borrowing from the Cowboys and Indians' playbook. "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.''

The proposal in Arkansas — like laws in states that allow guns to be carried out in the open — doesn't actually mention "open carry.'' It would make current restrictions apply to concealed handguns, instead of all handguns.

"Most states don't say it's legal to open carry,'' said Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of a pro-gun website called OpenCarry.org. "They just don't prohibit it.''

Gun laws in many of those states often stem from centuries-old ideologies, says Gary Kleck, a criminology professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

The thought process, Kleck says, went something like this: Honest men carry guns out in the open because they've got nothing to hide, while the criminally-inclined stow away their weapons. Hence the restrictions, like permits, on concealed guns.

But nowadays, calling for open carry laws is often just political grandstanding, Kleck said.

"Nobody's going to do it no matter how legal it is,'' he said, because social inhibitions would stop people from brandishing weapons in public. "You'd really be the object of attention if you'd walk around with a gun strapped to your waist.''

Still, Stollenwerk said states should give people the choice to carry guns out in the open, even if they carry concealed weapons most of the time.