Earlier this year, Arkansas became one of the first states in the country to issue what the state calls an “enhanced” concealed carry permit. The new regulations allow those with an enhanced endorsement to carry a concealed firearm many places that are off limits to those with the standard CHCL: public college campuses, churches, even bars. Are these new permits a step in the right direction for those of us who carry concealed?
Also See: 10 Ways to Concealed Carry Your Gun
Critics of the armed self-defense, too numerous to name, oppose the new permissiveness. Proponents of Constitutional Carry also oppose the basic premise that U.S. citizens need licensure at all, or that any physical location might be considered a “gun-free zone.”
As a resident of Arkansas with a vested interest in concealed carry, I decided I’d take the class with a bit more of a journalistic mindset.
A bit of background.... I’ve held concealed carry permits from at least six states. Some have had online applications and training required. Others have simply cashed the check I mailed them. Arkansas is the only state I’ve ever been permitted in that required both a sit-down class and a live-fire component—and that’s for the most basic permit.
In order to get the new enhanced version, the state asks that each applicant complete an additional class and do more shooting. So you have to already have a CHCL from Arkansas. There’s an additional fee, too, of $15 (in addition to anything you might be charged to take the actual class—which is left up to individual instructors).
Oh, the places you’ll go!
Once you complete the class and pass the test, you will be able to carry in:
- Publicly owned buildings and facilities
- State Capitol grounds and the State Capitol Building
- Any meeting place of the governing body of any governmental entity
- Any meeting place of the General Assembly or a committee of the General Assembly
- Any state office
- Athletic events
- A portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises
- A portion of an establishment where beer or light wine is consumed on the premises
- Inside the passenger terminal of an airport
- Any church or other place of worship
- Any place where a parade or demonstration requiring a permit is being held, even when the licensee is a participant in the parade or demonstration.
- The buildings and grounds of a public university, college, or community college.
In order to proceed to the live-fire testing, there is some lecture involved. The class instructor will cover the following:
- Arkansas Law - ACA §§ 5-73-101 to 325 and all significant changes to these chapters as they occur
- The terms of an Enhanced License, including the rights and responsibilities of an Enhanced License holder and all locations where the carry of concealed firearms remains prohibited
- Self-Defense under Arkansas law, the use of deadly physical force, the subchapter of Arkansas Code on “Justification” (ACA §§ 5-2-601 to -622), and the potential criminal penalties that may be imposed when the use of deadly physical force is not justified
- Techniques for weapon retention
- General civil liability for personal injury or property damage resulting from use of a firearm
- Emergent situations in public locations, including the proper response to law enforcement and the duty to avoid injury to innocent bystanders
- Issues related to campus carry, including, but not limited to:
- Responsibility of the licensee to know and obey the campus’s weapons policies
- Distinction between “possession” of a firearm, which is permissible, and “storage” which is not permissible and
- Requirement to carry concealed and potential penalties for violation
- Other considerations for enhanced carry, including but not limited to:
- Dangers of carrying or deploying a firearm in proximity to hazardous materials;
- Possible ramifications of alcohol use while in possession of a firearm and
- Identification as an Enhanced License holder in contact with law enforcement
- Other options beyond using Deadly Physical Force - Non Violent Dispute Resolution
On the range:
After finishing up with the book-work, applicants hit the range. The course of fire is as follows:
- Stage 1: 3 yard line – 20 Rounds
- 5 shots fired in a “one shot exercise” – 2 seconds allowed for each shot;
- 10 shots fired in a “two shot exercise” – 3 seconds allowed for each 2 shot sequence;
- 5 shots fired in 10 seconds;
- Stage 2: 7 yard line – 20 rounds
- 5 shots fired in 10 seconds
- 5 shots fired in 2 stages:
- 2 shots fired in 4 seconds;
- 3 shots fired in 6 seconds;
- 5 shots fired in a “one shot exercise” – 3 seconds allowed for each shot;
- 5 shots fired in 15 seconds;
- Stage 3: 15 yard line – 10 rounds
- 5 shots fired in 2 stages:
- 2 shots fired in 6 seconds;
- 3 shots fired in 9 seconds;
- 5 shots fired in 15 seconds;
That may look like an exhaustive list to those who know nothing about range-time. In reality, it took only a few minutes to complete the qualifying course-of-fire.
All of the timed-shoots were done from the ready position. That alone made everything much easier. And shots were made on a standard B-27, and had to be inside the 7 ring, at least. If that isn’t easy enough, you may shoot the course with any handgun.
I’m actually embarrassed to admit I scored a 49 out of 50. I ran the drill in good faith, by which I mean fast, and I pulled one shot high.
So what does all of this mean?
Here’s the rub—Arkansas, despite its connection with the Clinton dynasty, leans way to the right. The Natural State prides itself on its sporting opportunities and heritage. Rural is the norm, here, and that means guns are common.
If a state like California or Illinois were to run up an intense licensing requirement like this, no one would blink. Yet Arkansas’s political elite didn’t consider the licensure requirements to be cumbersome. Instead, they focused on the opportunities the new permit class would allow.
So which is it? Should we be happy that we may now carry in more places? Or should we protest because our inalienable rights are subject to licensure? I don’t personally feel like the state should tell me where I can carry. That said, I paid my money and have a new permit.
One thing seems clear: Arkansas’s new precedent will be closely watched by every state in this country—and by every side of this argument. A little education now, I think, will certainly be useful in the very near future.