The state Game and Fish Commission on Thursday officially blessed Thursday open carry of handguns on its properties.
The news release:

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved a regulation change today which will allow people to openly carry a handgun for personal protection while on any wildlife management area or Commission-controlled property or lake.

Previously, only people with valid concealed carry permits could possess handguns while on a wildlife management area, unless there was a hunting season in which the handgun would be legal. Concealed carry permit holders may still carry a concealed handgun, and anyone legally possessing a handgun (as defined by Ark. Code Ann. §5-73-120) on Commission-owned or -controlled property or while hunting, fishing or trapping on private property as long as it is: (1) for personal protection and either is not employed for hunting or is a legal killing device for a hunting season that is open, and (2) the handgun is otherwise lawfully possessed.

“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 AGFC Enforcement Division.

The Commission is appointed by the governor. Gov. Asa Hutchinson faces a gun nut opponent in the Republican primary. He’s already declared his belief that Arkansas is an open carry state, though no court case has yet firmly established that legal view. The gun toters are in the ascendancy. One question yet to be answered — and it’s being asked already by the hard-line gun crowd: If unlimited carry is the law of the land, where does the state get off saying a permit is necessary for concealed carry?  And, furthermore, where does it get off saying where guns may or may not be carried? In short, they’d say: What part of “shall not be infringed” don’t the powers that be understand? Game and Fish has heard their cry.

Time for the Capitol Police and the attorney general’s police force to agree that open carry is fine in their buildings, too.

CLARIFICATION: I’m seeking confirmation from Game and Fish, but I suspect this guidance doesn’t pertain to buildings, such as headquarters or nature centers. Existing state law that applies to open carry explicitly bars the carrying of loaded weapons  in public buildings. Changes to the law pertaining to concealed carry expanded buildings to which CONCEALED weapons may be carried to include most public buildings for those with the enhanced permits that may be received with additional training.

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