Editor's note: Updated with comment from the office of Arkansas Attorney General. Comment noted at the end of this story.
Arkansas Carry has contacted Sebastian County Judge David Hudson, asking him and the Sebastian County Quorum Court to repeal a county rule that bans firearms at Ben Geren Park, according to information provided by Arkansas Carry Vice Chairman Steve Jones.
The Sebastian Code rule reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to introduce or otherwise bring into the Ben Geren Regional Park any firearm or to have within his or her possession a firearm while within the Ben Geren Regional Park unless the person has been given express permission to do so by the administration of the Ben Geren Regional Park.”
Officials with Arkansas Carry, which labels itself a “staunch ally of gun owners and the Second Amendment,” believe Arkansas law prevents local governments from enacting gun control legislation.
“Currently, a state regulatory scheme exists for the possession of firearms. The State of Arkansas does not require and, in fact, has specifically prohibited cities, counties and municipalities from exercising their police powers in regards to firearms regulations,” Jones noted in his letter to Hudson and Quorum Court members.
When contacted Friday by The City Wire, Hudson said he was occupied with a family emergency and would respond Monday.
Jones cites Arkansas law that notes: “A local unit of government shall not enact any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner, the ownership, transfer, transportation, carrying, or possession of firearms, ammunition for firearms, or components of firearms, except as otherwise provided in state or federal law.”
According to Arkansas Carry, the state law “specifically restricts” local rulemaking concerning gun laws, and instead seeks to “provide uniformity throughout the state of Arkansas in its firearm laws.”
“This Act expressly prohibits Sebastian County from enacting any code, ordinance or regulation concerning the ownership, transfer, transportation, carrying, or possession of firearms, but allows for ordinances prohibiting the discharge of firearms,” Jones noted in the letter.
Gabe Holmstrom, spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, said more info is needed to make a formal legal opinion.
“As a general rule, local ordinances that conflict with a state statute are invalid. In order to determine whether this particular ordinance conflicts with state law one would need to obtain all the facts and analyze the ordinance and the potentially relevant Arkansas code sections. The Attorney General is not in a position to undertake those efforts and therefore cannot comment on the validity of the local law in question.”