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Attorneys in concealed-carry lawsuits file to expand case to Saline County, Arkansas State University

Seeking concealed carry OK, they add county, ASU by John Lynch | December 2, 2022 at 3:25 a.m.
Great Seal of Arkansas in a court room in Washington County. Thursday, June 21, 2018,

Two lawyers testing the limits of Arkansas gun laws in court have added Saline County and Arkansas State University to their lawsuit list while seeking to expand the scope of ongoing litigation against Little Rock and Pulaski County.

The Little Rock suit stems from city officials rebuffing Conway attorney Chris Corbitt from bringing a gun into City Hall, with Corbitt similarly suing Pulaski County for barring him from carrying a firearm into the county courthouse, both incidents in October.

In those separate suits, Corbitt, represented by law school professor Robert Steinbuch, claims he's entitled to be armed in court under a 2017 expansion of the state's concealed-carry laws, Arkansas Code 5-73-122. A 2021 modification of the state's concealed-carry licensing laws gives Corbitt the authority as an enhanced concealed-carry licensee to take his pistol into municipal buildings like City Hall, the attorneys contend.

This week, Corbitt and Steinbuch filed the paperwork to expand those city and county lawsuits to class-action status. Such an expansion requires the presiding judge's permission, but if class action is granted, any lawyer, with few exceptions, who has appeared in Pulaski County Circuit Court during the past five years could join the courthouse suit, while the city hall suit would encompass all expanded-carry license holders. Class action has the potential to add as many as 1,000 plaintiffs to each suit, Steinbuch states in the pleadings.

Earlier this month, the pair sued Saline County, further naming Sheriff Rodney Wright, County Judge Jeff Arey and the county circuit court after Corbitt was refused entry to the courthouse with a gun on Oct. 24.

The suit claims further wrongdoing in that signage at the courthouse announcing the gun ban does not distinguish between traditional concealed-carry permit holders from enhanced-carry licensees who enjoy fewer restrictions.

In Craighead County, they are suing Arkansas State and its seven-member trustee board for barring enhanced-carry licensees from bringing their guns into the school's First National Bank Arena.

Corbitt has not tried to take a weapon into the arena due to signage announcing firearms are prohibited on the grounds, without recognizing the expanded permissions granted to enhanced-carry license holders, according to the suit. He and Steinbuch are asking the court to declare the school's prohibition unconstitutional and prohibit ASU from excluding the enhanced-carry licensees from the arena.

The lawyers are sure of their position, they moved for summary judgment on Monday, calling on the presiding judge, Pamela Honeycutt, to side with them, arguing that the school is relying on an exemption in the law that is specifically denied to public universities.

Their arguments have so far been unpersuasive to judges, with two of their suits, one against the Game & Fish Commission and the other involving the Pulaski County jail, now on appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Their first attempt at suing Little Rock over City Hall access was unsuccessful in state court then rejected by the high court on a technicality without a decision on the merits.

Print Headline: Lawyers expand gun lawsuit


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