LITTLE ROCK — A dozen gun rights supporters plan to march in a western Arkansas city this weekend with their firearms on display to highlight a law that they argue allows the open carry of handguns, despite an attorney general's opinion saying otherwise.
Arkansas Carry, a gun-rights group, on Saturday plans to hold an invitation-only "open carry" march in Fort Smith to highlight the disputed law, which took effect Aug. 16. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel last month said the new law makes technical corrections regarding the possession of a handgun but didn't remove the restrictions on carrying weapons openly.
Arkansas law currently states that being on a journey is a defense to prosecution for illegally carrying a weapon, but doesn't define what constitutes a journey. The new law defines a journey as traveling "beyond the county in which the person lives."
The head of Arkansas Carry, which has about 200 members in the state, says the advisory opinion by McDaniel is wrong.
"Basically we're going to do the walk because it's legal and we're trying to show that Act 746 does authorize open carry contrary to what the attorney general said," Steve Jones, the group's chairman, said Thursday.
A spokesman for McDaniel declined to comment on Saturday's event. The attorney general, in last month's advisory opinion, said the "journey" exception was meant to allow Arkansans to "protect themselves from the dangers of the open road."