In Arkansas, you must have a license to carry a concealed handgun. Not everyone qualifies for a license, however. And even if you do have a license, you are not allowed to carry a gun wherever you like. The sections that follow explain who may not own a gun, and the circumstances or situations where carrying a gun is illegal.
For more information about obtaining a concealed handgun license, see Arkansas Gun Laws.
Carrying a Gun in Your Vehicle
You are not allowed to carry a gun in your vehicle unless at least one of the following is true:
- you have a license to carry a concealed handgun
- you are on your own property
- you are a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, former law enforcement officer (with valid authorization), or member of the armed forces acting in the course and scope of your official duties
- you are assisting a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces acting in the course and scope of official duties, according to the direction or request of the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces
- you are carrying the gun “upon a journey” (you must still lawfully declare your weapon in an airport)
- you are a licensed security guard acting in the course and scope of your official duties
- you are driving to or from a hunting area for the purpose of hunting game with a handgun, or
- you are a prosecuting attorney with valid authorization.
(Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-120.)
People Who May Not Possess a Gun
General prohibitions. Arkansas law prohibits the following individuals from possessing a firearm:
- anyone who has been convicted of a felony (unless the case was expunged or the individual was formally pardoned and/or rights to possess a firearm were restored)
- anyone who has been adjudicated mentally ill, or
- anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
(Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-103.)
Minors. No one under the age of 18 may possess a handgun in Arkansas. (Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-119.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
General restrictions. You may not carry a firearm, openly or concealed, if it is easily available for use as a weapon against another person. However, it is a defense to prosecution under this law that you are:
- in your own home, on your own property, or at your place of business (except for “vehicular businesses” such as taxi cabs or other motor vehicles used for commercial purposes)
- assisting a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces acting in the course and scope of official duties, according to the direction or request of the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or member of the armed forces
- carrying the firearm “upon a journey,” unless you are going through a commercial airport at the security checkpoint or you fail to declare the firearm in your checked baggage
- legally hunting game with a handgun, or traveling to or from a legal hunting area, or
- in a motor vehicle and you have a valid license to carry a concealed handgun (see above).
The law provides for several other defenses not ennumerated here.
(Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-120.)
Restrictions on carrying concealed handguns with a permit. Even if you have a license to carry a concealed handgun, you may not carry a concealed handgun into any:
- police or sheriff’s station, including any Arkansas highway police division
- building or adjacent grounds of the Arkansas highway and transportation department, except rest areas or weigh stations
- detention facility, prison, or jail, including a parking lot owned, maintained, or otherwise controlled by the Department of Correction or Department of Community Correction
- courthouse, place leased or annexed for purposes of conducting court proceedings, or place housing a county office (unless the licensee is employed by the county or a countywide electedofficial; the licensee's principal place of business is at said place; and the court has approved a plan providing for concealed carry)
- polling place
- meeting place of a government body
- meeting of the General Assembly or a related committee
- state office
- athletic event not related to firearms
- establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, other than certain restaurants
- establishment where beer or light wine is consumed on the premises, other than certain restaurants
- school, college, community college, or university campus building or event (certain exceptions apply)
- passenger terminal of any airport, except that you may carry a legal firearm into the passenger terminal if it is packaged for shipment and you will be checking it for lawful transportation by air
- church or other place of worship
- place where the carrying a firearm is prohibited by federal law
- place where a parade or demonstration requiring a permit is being held, and you are a participant in the parade or demonstration, or
- place where the owner or manager has posted a qualified written notice (owners of private homes need not post such notices, and if you enter a private home you must notify the owner that you are carrying a concealed handgun; also does not apply if the place is a public university, public college, or community college, as defined in § 5–73–322, and the licensee is carrying a concealed handgun as provided under § 5–73–322; or it's a publicly owned and maintained parking lot if the licensee is carrying a concealed handgun in his or her motor vehicle or has left the concealed handgun in his or her locked and unattended motor vehicle).
(Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-306.)
Publicly owned buildings and facilities. You may not carry a gun into the following places, unless you are a law enforcement officer, a security guard employed by the state or any city or county, or military personnel:
- any publicly owned building or facility or on the State Capitol grounds (unless the gun is unloaded)
- the State Capitol Building or the Justice Building in Little Rock, or
- any state courtroom.
This law does not apply if you are carrying a firearm for the purpose of “participating in a shooting match or target practice under the auspices of the agency responsible for the building or facility or grounds or if necessary to participate in a trade show, exhibit, or educational course conducted in the building or facility or on the grounds.”
(Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-122.)
Schools. No person under the age of 18 may possess a handgun at all. As an adult, you may not possess a firearm, whether openly or concealed:
- on the developed property of a public or private school, K-12 (As of July 2015, Arkansas law does allow the possession of a gun on private school grounds under specified circumstances)
- in or on a school bus, or
- at a designated school bus stop.
In addition, you may not possess a handgun on the property of an institution of higher education, whether on your person, in a vehicle, or in any other way that it is easily available for use as a weapon against another person. The Arkansas Attorney General has noted that this restriction does not apply to people with valid concealed handgun licenses.
(Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-119; Arkansas Attorney General’s Opinion No. 2003-372 (2003).)
Certain counties and other locations. Unless you have a license, you may not carry a loaded center-fire weapon, other than a shotgun, in certain parts of Baxter County, Benton County, Carroll County, Conway County, Garland County, Marion County, and platted subdivisions located in unincorporated areas. This law does not apply to the residence or business of the gun owner. (Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-127.)
Types of Guns That Are Illegal
Machine guns. Possession or use of a machine gun for offensive or aggressive purpose is a crime punishable by at least ten years in prison. (Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-204.)
Defaced firearms. You may not knowingly possesses a firearm with a manufacturer's serial number or other identification mark required by law that has been removed, defaced, marred, altered, or destroyed. Possession of a defaced firearm is a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison. However, it is a defense to prosecution under this law that you reported the possession to the police or another government agency before being arrested or subject to an arrest warrant or summons. (Arkansas Statutes § 5-73-107.)
Penalties for Illegally Possessing a Handgun
Depending on the specific offense, violating a gun law in Arkansas could constitute anything from a misdemeanor to a serious felony offense. You can learn the specifics by carefully reading Chapter 73 of the Arkansas Statutes.
Getting Legal Help
If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Arkansas, or if you are facing charges for a gun permit or carry violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.