Misinformation about the interpretation and application of Arkansas’s new gun laws, specifically about reciprocity, was spread between the legal counsels for the Arkansas State Police and the Idaho State Police in mid-September.
What the issue boils down to is whether or not Arkansas will honor Idaho concealed “weapons” permits if said “weapon” is a handgun.
The snafu popped up in an official letter dated Sept. 17 written by Arkansas State Police Lt. Cora Gentry to the Idaho State Police:
It is our Department’s legal counsel’s opinion that the license issued by another state must specifically be a concealed “handgun” license to be honored and a concealed “weapons” license does not fit within the specific wording of the new law and would not be honored.
Gentry declared that Idaho licenses were not recognized in Arkansas due to the fact that they are “weapons” licenses, not “handgun” licenses. However, the law does not specifically state that the license must be a “handgun” license, only a license to carry one.
“A person in possession of a valid license to carry a concealed handgun issued to the person by another state is entitled to the privileges and subject to the restrictions prescribed by this subchapter,” the law states.
Even the Arkansas State Police website doesn’t separate the two types of licenses for recognition simply stating, “Effective Aug. 16, 2013, the State of Arkansas acknowledges all concealed handgun carry licenses lawfully issued by another state.”
Gentry’s letter ends by saying, “If you disagree with this interpretation or would like to seek further legal advice on Arkansas law, please feel free to contact Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office.”
But on Sept. 26, Greg Downs, general counsel for the Arkansas State Police, wrote a follow-up letter that corrects Gentry’s response. In the follow-up letter, Downs states that Gentry was “mistaken,” citing an earlier internal communication in April concerning the new law in which Down’s wrote:
A valid CHCL [Concealed Handgun Carry License] from another state, regardless of the training standards or that whatever may differ or be less stringent, then you can carry in Arkansas. But you still have to follow Arkansas laws on concealed carry (locations, etc.).
Downs also points out the previously mentioned statement on the State Police website, in addition to making it precisely clear:
Accordingly, as applied to the question of Idaho’s concealed weapons licenses, they would simply be limited under Arkansas law to concealed handguns, and an Idaho license holder would similarly be subject to other restrictions under Arkansas law, such as prohibited locations.
The letter was also carbon copied to the Arkansas State Police Director Col. Stan Witt, who has not disagreed with the interpretation.
And, once again, the state of Arkansas will acknowledge all concealed carry licenses lawfully issued by another state. Just an FYI.