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Fort Smith
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sheriff Discusses Proposed Self-Defense Bill


Groups such as the Patriots of Act 746 and the Arkansas Liberty Coalition have been around for years, but are now the focus of lawmakers and citizens in the State of Arkansas who wonder, can I carry a firearm, either open or concealed.

That is a question either of these groups address on a daily basis. Their answer is, absolutely. Moreover, they back up this claim with the passage of Act 746, which passed in 2013.

AR Code § 5-73-120  states : A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.

In August of 2015, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge expressed her opinion on 5-73-120. “The first proposition is clear from the language of the amended statute and I need go no further than this to determine that the statute requires that the possession be ‘with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ’ the handgun “as a weapon against a person.” In fact, on at least three occasions, the Arkansas Supreme Court has made clear that a person must have the intent required by the statute ‘in order to violate § 5-73-120(a).’ So, what does the foregoing actually mean for Arkansas law enforcement and for the people of Arkansas? While I do not encourage open carry, so long as a person has no intent “to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person,’, he or she may possess a handgun without violating § 573-120(a). That means in general merely possessing a handgun on your person or in your occupied vehicle does not violate § 5-73-120(a) and may be done if it does not violate other laws or regulations.”

Read Rutledge’s response in its entirety.

In the AG’s initial comments, she noted that legislators should “clarify” the statute. That is one job currently underway by legislators in the 92nd general assembly. As of last week, House Resolution 1013 had passed the house, and is on its way to a senate committee.

-See HR1013

Recently a bill was introduced by Representative Aaron Pilkington from District 69, which includes portions of Johnson and Pope counties. HB1059 is a self-defense bill that has met opposition from the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association. The bill was postponed in order to be amended, addressing those concerns.

The proposed bill would remove from the state’s code books language that prohibits people from using deadly force in situations when they could have otherwise retreated. Proponents of the bill contend that in some situations those seconds it would take you to “consider retreating” could cost you your life. Opponents claim, however, such laws could lead to a rise in gun homicides.

Pilkington also said he has been asked to leave alone “duty to retreat” provisions now in effect, but he doesn’t plan to do so. Scott Bradley, the executive director of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association, said the group opposed HB1059 and would likely continue to oppose it even after the bill is amended. The consensus of the Sheriff’s Association is that “we have a good law and it works.”

HB1059 was placed on a list of “deferred” bills in the House Judiciary Committee. Sebastian County Sheriff Hobe Runion said that he feels the bill will pass. “I am personally a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” stated Runion. “If it does pass, we will follow that law.”

See HB1059

Runion said that in this area, there hasn’t been problems with people carrying openly, or exercising their right to Constitutional carry. “We live in a law abiding community that supports law enforcement.” he concluded.

Runion affirmed that citizens have the Constitutional right to carry. Moreover, that anyone who is carrying, is not required to inform law enforcement during a traffic stop.

He added that “we need to think about the citizens who count on us as elected officials and we should reflect those we represent.”

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Tammy Teague
Tammy Teague
Tammy is the heart behind the brand. Her tenacity to curate authentic journalism, supported by a genuine heart is one her many wholesome qualities.
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