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Demonstrators take part in open carry walk

Posted: January 4, 2014 - 4:23pm
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Demonstrators walk the sidewalk of Oak Street, while openly carrying weapons, on Saturday morning. Dozens took part in the walk to support Act 746, which has led some prosecutors to believe open carry is allowed in the state.  LEE HOGAN STAFF PHOTO
LEE HOGAN STAFF PHOTO
Demonstrators walk the sidewalk of Oak Street, while openly carrying weapons, on Saturday morning. Dozens took part in the walk to support Act 746, which has led some prosecutors to believe open carry is allowed in the state.

There was no shortage of firearms and holsters Saturday morning in Conway as dozens openly-carried handguns on their hips as part of a constitutional carry demonstration walk.

The “celebratory walk,” as described by Arkansas Carry chairman Nicholas Stehle, was scheduled after 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said his office, whose jurisdiction includes Faulkner County, would not prosecute people for openly carrying a weapon in public. Hiland’s decision came in the aftermath of an amendment, now Act 746, that passed the Arkansas House and Senate in 2013, which has left several prosecutors with a different interpretation of the legality of open, or constitutional, carry.

Demonstrators gathered around 11 a.m. in the Colton’s parking lot where they were instructed to keep their weapons in holsters at all times. Without incident, the demonstrators walked the Oak Street sidewalk to its intersection with Ingram Street and returned to Colton’s for lunch.

Supporters of Act 746 were joined by state Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Curtis Coleman.

Stehle said the support from public figures was appreciated by the group.

“They constantly put themselves out there on the issues, and let their constituents and possible constituents know where they stand on these things,” he said. “We appreciate that a lot.”

While speaking with reporters, Coleman voiced his support of Act 746, and said he believes the interpretation of prosecutors like Hiland is correct.

“I do defer to prosecutors in each county to the interpretation of the law, but it is my interpretation that this is what is called constitutional carry,” Coleman said. “I think open carry is what is accurately called constitutional carry, which is an acronym for the fact that the rights of the Second Amendment, for any American, should never be infringed.”

In hindsight, some legislators, including state Rep. Steve Magie, D-Conway, have said they didn’t believe the amendment would change the interpretation.

“It did not appear that it opened up the right for somebody to strap on their six-shooter and walk into a Walmart,” Magie told the Log Cabin Democrat in December.

SLIDESHOW: Click HERE to view photos from walk

Whether all lawmakers were aware or not, Coleman said the change in interpretation was intended, but clarification is still needed.

“As governor, I certainly will be advocating a clarification so that there is no equivocation and no doubt for any local prosecutor in this state that this does constitute an open carry legislation in Arkansas,” he said.

Stehle said he did not see the need for any clarification, and placed blame on Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who “intentionally clouded” the amendment in order to “probably give some cover to some people.”

“The fact of the matter is, the law is pretty clear as it is written,” Stehle said. “We have one of the most solid and iron-clad constitutional carry laws in the country.”

McDaniel issued an opinion in July, which stated he did “not interpret (the amendment) as authorizing so-called ‘open carry.’”

Both Coleman and Stehle said allowing Arkansans to openly carry weapons does not create risk or danger to the public.

“I think the most dangerous places in the country are gun free zones,” Coleman said.

“Open carry is allowed in 44 other states, and there is just not a lot of evidence to suggest anything like that happens,” Stehle said. “In fact, there’s more evidence than anything else to suggest crimes are simply avoided. If a criminal sees someone carrying openly, they tend to avoid that person, because they don’t look like a very good victim.”

(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at lee.hogan@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan. To comment on this and other stories, log on to thecabin.net.)

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conwaygerl
5557
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conwaygerl 01/04/14 - 08:23 pm
6
4
So

No one got shot? That's incredible. They must have carried safe guns and left the dangerous ones at home.

lachowsj
5227
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lachowsj 01/04/14 - 09:08 pm
5
5
Colton's for lunch

What, Hooters was all booked up? Don't tell me Texans know how to do this stuff better than Arkansans.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/11/moms-demand-action-...

faulknerwatchdog
582
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faulknerwatchdog 01/04/14 - 09:22 pm
3
4
Maybe Colton's is just

Maybe Colton's is just Conway's favorite food joint, gun owner and hater alike.

faulknerwatchdog
582
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faulknerwatchdog 01/04/14 - 09:35 pm
4
4
Dangerous!

And did you watch the video? Did you see all those dangerous "potential terrorists" in that segment? Those old men and ladies, little kids, and non-threatening younger folks look like just the type to commit mass murder.

lachowsj
5227
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lachowsj 01/04/14 - 11:59 pm
7
5
Looked safe to you

All white people.

arkansan
1038
Points
arkansan 01/05/14 - 08:00 am
8
3
yup

You got that right.
A large group of a different race would probably have been arrested.

faulknerwatchdog
582
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faulknerwatchdog 01/05/14 - 08:24 am
5
4
Look again

Or did you actually watch the video? Leave it to a liberal to make this about race. I saw a black lady with two little kids

Perhaps you didn't hear what the non-white police chief of Detroit had to say about arming citizens: http://www.newsmax.com/US/guns-arm-citizen-crime/2014/01/04/id/545187
I don't agree with his assessment on "assault weapons" (which would have included muskets if this discussion was 100 years ago) or tighter regulations, but the fact remains: an armed society is a polite society.

lachowsj
5227
Points
lachowsj 01/05/14 - 08:58 am
2
4
Have to say

That guy has an interesting perspective on the very difficult job he has taken on. He certainly doesn't sound like a nut, though he is an outlier on this issue among big city police chiefs. We'll see how he does. Based on this article, I would certainly trade the Faulkner County sheriff for him.

Who was that black lady with the kids? Was she carrying or just looking?

lachowsj
5227
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lachowsj 01/05/14 - 01:12 pm
3
2
Common ground?

Interesting that you pointed me to that Detroit police chief who appears to be attempting to occupy the shaky sliver of common ground between those who wish to regulate gun ownership and those who believe any regulation is like throwing away the constitution. There is an interesting front page story in today's New York Times about Dick Metcalf becoming persona non grata in the gun enthusiast community for committing the mortal sin of writing, "All constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be." The result was, in spite of a lifetime of advocating for gun owners, that his email was immediately filled with death threats. Apparently the gun community doesn't take too kindly to nuanced opinions.

DanCDaves
2781
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DanCDaves 01/05/14 - 09:12 pm
5
4
Define safe.

Shouldn't this say something about the nature of law enforcement rather than the race of the demonstrators?

If no one is shot or hurt, wouldn't you consider it to be safe? Or do we need to get hypothetical with our hindsight?

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