KUAR’s reports
that three legislators yesterday requested a formal opinion from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on the question of whether “open carry” of guns is now legal in Arkansas.

The lawmakers are Rep. Nate Bell of Mena (now sporting an “I” next to his name rather than an “R”), Sen. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) and Rep. Tim Lemons (R-Cabot). All three support open carry. 

The issue was reawakened recently by a statement from Rutledge in which she said that she interprets a 2013 law to allow open carry. Her predecessor, Dustin McDaniel, issued an opinion in 2013 which said the opposite. AG opinions don’t carry the force of law, but they are important for influencing how statutes are interpreted.

KUAR’s report includes this statement from Bell:

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“A lot of law enforcement agencies are being asked to make decisions. There’s a lot of public pressure for the process to speed up,” Bell said. “Several of us felt like it was best to go ahead and get an opinion request out there. Even though they’re not legally binding, they do offer some guidance to the law enforcement community. A few of them seem to be confused.”

Rep. Bell said the request to the Republican attorney general comes after a period of hesitation.

“I’ve actually encouraged other legislators to hold and to wait to file this opinion request because there are some cases in litigation. I would personally have preferred that we had the results of that litigation prior to requesting an AG opinion,” said Bell.