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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission announced a regulation change Thursday that will allow for the open carry of handguns in any wildlife management area or commission-controlled property or lake.

According to a news release from the group, the previous rule only allowed individuals with valid concealed carry permits to have handguns in those areas, unless there was a hunting season in which the weapon was legal.

“This clarification was the result of enforcement and wildlife management staff listening to concerned citizens and working to benefit all parties,” said Col. Greg Rae, chief of the commission's enforcement division.

The change means that having a handgun on property owned or controlled by Game and Fish is allowed as long as it is for personal protection and isn't being used for hunting, unless it's allowed for a current season.

In a letter sent to the Arkansas State Police and prosecutors last month, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he believes that a much-debated 2013 state law allows for the open carry of handguns.

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