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Arkansas Gun Control Laws

Guns are a hot-button issue in America. State gun laws reflect the vast difference in attitudes toward gun ownership and gun violence from one region to the next. Many states require a waiting period upon purchase of a firearm and have several restrictions on the carrying of handguns. Arkansas gun laws are more permissive than many other states.

Gun owners point to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as the basis for limited regulation of firearms. It protects the right to bear arms. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has called the right to own guns an individual right for self-defense at home and in public. 

The Court has also stated that gun rights are not absolute. The government may place reasonable restrictions on firearms and their use. The Court requires a historical test for such regulations, asking whether the firearm restriction is consistent with traditional gun regulations in the U.S.

Federal gun control laws provide for the licensing of gun dealers. They also prohibit certain persons from possessing firearms. This includes convicted felons and users of illegal drugs. Federal law also set up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which assists gun dealers and law enforcement agencies.

The Basics of Arkansas Gun Control Laws

Arkansas law prohibits some weapons that are banned in other states, such as machine guns and defaced firearms. Other than that, Arkansas has very few controls on gun ownership.

There is no waiting period to purchase a firearm, including handguns. The state does not require a permit to buy handguns. Arkansas does not require universal background checks for gun purchases. If you buy a gun from a licensed dealer, they will comply with federal law and run a background check before delivery of the weapon. If you buy a gun through a private sale, there is no background check requirement.

In recent years, the number of mass shootings has led to new public safety efforts in several states. This has led to restrictions on ownership of assault-style weapons and undetectable guns which may be created through 3-D printing or built from mail-order gun kits. 

Several states have also adopted so-called red flag laws that allow courts to prohibit the possession of firearms by persons who are a threat to themselves or others. 

Arkansas has not joined such efforts. In contrast, the state has loosened regulations on the carrying of concealed firearms. It enacted a permitless concealed carry law. Under permitless carry, an otherwise law-abiding citizen can carry a concealed handgun without first getting a state permit and passing a background check.

Due to confusion over when a concealed carry permit is required, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 777. It clarified that the purpose and construction of the concealed handguns subchapter of the Arkansas Code was to assist residents with reciprocity with other states. Arkansas law does not require a person to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in the state. 

Arkansas offers the option of regular and enhanced permits. An enhanced permit requires a separate firearms safety training certificate. It may allow a permit holder to take a concealed firearm into certain places that are otherwise prohibited. This includes public colleges and most public buildings. More information appears on the Arkansas State Police website.

In Arkansas, there is no minimum age for owning a rifle or shotgun. However, the law prohibits most people under 18 years old from possessing a handgun. There are exceptions for minors under parental or other adult supervision who are participating in lawful marksmanship competitions, practices, or other lawful recreational shooting.

As with other states, Arkansas prohibits bringing firearms into certain places. Location restrictions come with several exceptions. In general, you cannot have a gun in the following locations:

  • Public or private schools (K-12)
  • School buses and bus stops
  • Colleges and universities and their events
  • Public buildings at the State Capitol, including the Arkansas Justice building in Little Rock
  • Police, sheriff, state police stations
  • Detention facilities, jails, prisons
  • Any meeting place of the governing body of a governmental unit
  • Any meeting of the General Assembly or one of its committees
  • Any state office
  • Athletic events not related to firearms
  • Churches and other places of worship
  • Parades or demonstrations that require a permit
  • Passenger terminal of an airport
  • Certain places licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages
  • Private property when notice provided

Law enforcement officers are permitted to carry a weapon in a number of these locations.

Overview of Arkansas Gun Laws

Additional details about gun laws in the state of Arkansas are listed below.

Relevant Arkansas Gun Control Statutes (Laws)

Arkansas Code, Title 5, Criminal Offenses

Illegal Arms

The following arms are illegal to own in Arkansas:

  • Bombs
  • Machine guns
  • Metal ("brass") knuckles
  • Defaced firearms (removed or altered serial marks or ID numbers)

Waiting Period

There is no waiting period to purchase a firearm in Arkansas.

Who May Not Own

The following persons are prohibited from owning a firearm:

  • People with a felony conviction
  • People who are adjudicated mentally ill
  • People who are committed involuntarily to any mental institution
The Governor can restore gun rights in certain limited circumstances.

License Required?

No. You don't need a license to purchase or own a gun in Arkansas.

Concealed Carry License Required?

No. A state concealed handgun carry license (CHCL) is optional. At 18 years old, a person can carry a concealed handgun in the state if they are otherwise engaged in lawful activity and under no prohibition. The state provides a CHCL for citizens who desire to have reciprocity in other states.

Open Carried Allowed?

Yes. Open carry is allowed in Arkansas unless there is an unlawful intent to use the firearm against a person.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To be eligible for a concealed handgun carry license (CHCL) you must:

  • Be 21 years of age or older or at least 18 years of age if a member of the armed forces, National Guard, or reserve
  • Be a United States citizen or a permanent resident
  • Have resided in Arkansas continuously for at least 90 days prior to the application
  • Desire a legal means to carry a firearm to defend yourself
  • Not be convicted of a felony unless you are pardoned or had your records expunged
  • Not suffer from an infirmity that prevents you from safely handling a firearm
  • Have not threatened or attempted suicide
  • Not be prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law and have passed a criminal background check
  • Not chronically or habitually abuse a controlled substance or alcohol to the extent that normal faculties are impaired
  • Not have been committed to a treatment facility for a controlled substance or alcohol abuse or found guilty of an offense under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act within the last three years
  • Not have been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution or treatment facility
  • Completed the firearm training course
  • Sign a statement of allegiance to the U.S. and Arkansas Constitutions
  • Not be a fugitive from justice

You may apply for a restricted license (live fire training with revolver) or an unrestricted license (live fire training with a semi-automatic handgun). You may also apply for an enhanced CHCL. It requires separate training.

An application for any CHCL may be denied if you have been found guilty of a misdemeanor crime of violence or an offense of carrying a weapon within the past five years.

Arkansas recognizes all out-of-state concealed carry licenses.

Machine Gun Laws

  • Possession of a machine gun is prohibited if it is used for "offensive or aggressive purpose" or used during the commission of a crime.
  • To legally possess a machine gun, the owner must qualify to do so under federal law and must also register it in compliance with federal law.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

  • Possession of a machine gun for offensive or aggressive purposes is a felony, punishable by 10 years in prison. Possession of a machine gun in the commission of a crime is a Class A felony, punishable by six to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
  • Possession of a firearm with a violent felony conviction and in certain other circumstances is a class B felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
  • Possession of a firearm with a nonviolent felony conviction is a class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Possession of a firearm after adjudication for mental illness or after involuntary commitment to a mental institution is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Possession of a defaced firearm is a class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. If the serial number is merely covered but still retrievable, then it is a class A misdemeanor offense.
  • Furnishing a handgun or defaced firearm to a minor is a Class B felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
  • Unlawful procurement of a firearm is a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Illegal possession of a handgun by a minor is generally a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Furnishing a handgun or prohibited weapon to a felon is a Class B felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

It is a class D felony to illegally possess a firearm at a school bus stop, on a school bus, or on the developed property of a school (K-12). The penalty for the offense can be up to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Red Flag Law?

No. Arkansas does not have a red flag law that permits seizure of firearms from persons a court finds to pose a threat of harm to themselves or others.

Universal Background Checks?

No. Arkansas does not require background checks on private firearms transactions.

Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. Arkansas law permits a person engaged in self-defense or defense of others to use deadly force under certain circumstances where such force is justified with no duty to retreat.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

Arkansas Gun Control Laws: Related Resources

Facing a Firearms Violation in Arkansas? Speak With an Attorney

Firearms violations are serious charges and require the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A defense lawyer can also help you understand Arkansas laws on gun ownership and concealed weapons.

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