Arkansas has again demonstrated that it inherently trusts law-abiding citizens with firearms. In late January, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission changed its regulations for being armed on any state wildlife management area (WMA). People will now be able to openly carry any type of firearm for personal protection in WMAs.
The rule expands the commission’s previous one, which allowed only people with concealed carry permits to be armed in WMAs, unless it was hunting season, in which case any law-abiding citizen could carry openly, provided the handgun would be legal for the hunt.
The commission said the change came in response to concerns from citizens. “This clarification was the result of enforcement and wildlife management staff listening to concerned citizens and working to benefit all parties,” Col. Greg Rae, chief of the AGFC Enforcement Division, said on the commission’s website.
The new regulation says: 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.
It’s the second major announcement out of Arkansas recently to indicate that state officials support the Second Amendment. The regulation was passed less than a month after Gov. Asa Hutchinson told Arkansas State Police that he interprets a 2013 law to mean that open carry is the law in the state, and law enforcement should act in accordance with that belief.
Thank you, game and fish commission, for recognizing that every law-abiding citizen who can own a firearm legally has the right to defend themselves against bears and other animals that can act unpredictably.