Did a little ol' bill generally assumed to be a technical correction aimed at allowing people to carry handguns on a "journey" without fear of arrest actually deregulate the carrying of handguns entirely? That's the gun nut argument, though it's contested by many, even pro-gun lawyers of the Republican variety such as Rep. Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado. He says deregulation wasn't the intent of the minor corrective. But a court interprets intent only from the plain language of a law and this is a sloppily drafted piece of dreck from Rep. Denny Altes that got the same consideration most gun legislation got this session — it was whooped through. (Note, too, that the bill lifted the prohibition on toting guns into taverns and any other place alcohol is sold.)
It's going to take a court test to clear up, no doubt about that. Who'll be the showcase arrest? Maybe Rep. Nate Bell would volunteer.
Here's the thing. It seems to me if the nutters' argument is right, it's the end of regulation of handguns carried both openly and in concealment. For legal authority, who better than Rep. Bullet Bob Ballinger, a putative lawyer, who had hoped to declare Arkansas immune to federal law when it came to guns, a rare gun defeat in the Fetuses and Firearms and Federally Finance Obamacare Session.
“If it’s given its plain meaning, then it essentially says unless you’re carrying with intent to commit a crime, that you can lawfully carry a handgun,” said Ballinger, a lawyer.
A Facebook comment from someone else who identifies himself as a lawyer:
"I am an attorney and I, as well as many other attorneys, think the new law allows for 'open carry' meaning carrying a handgun openly on your belt anywhere not otherwise prohibited. I believe the new law makes conceal carry laws obsolete. After July 1, any non-prohibited person can carry a handgun, knife, or club on their person or in their vehicle as long as they do not have the intent to attempt to use the weapon unlawfully against a person. The law does not distinguish between open or concealed carry. The new law deletes the section prohibiting carrying a weapon into an establishment that serves alcohol."