|Updated: 2/10/2011 8:51 pm
||Published: 2/10/2011 6:03 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A bill that would legalize the open carry of firearms fails in a big way at the state capitol today as a legislative committee takes the unusual step of deciding to vote to not pass a bill.
Arkansas will not join other states like Arizona that allow unrestricted open carry of guns. Several members of law enforcement lined up to oppose HB1051 today, which would legalize.
"This bill only further deteriorates officer safety on the highway," Lt. Cora Gentry with Arkansas State Police says. Gentry added it would be especially dangerous on traffic stops.
"If you're confronted with a person, or maybe two people, that come out of a car armed on their hip then officers are forced to make a decision in an even shorter period of time than they've ever had to make before," Gentry says.
Supporters say the licensing under the current carry-conceal law is too expensive and unlicensed open-carry would give easier access to guns for lower income people, an argument legislators took exception with.
"It comes back to the fact that some people here are interested in good law, making good law. And I don't understand why we take this back door approach," Rep Matthew Sheppard (R- El Dorado) says.
The House Judiciary Committee, in a rare move, shot down the bill, approving a do not pass motion.
"It’s very unusual you get a motion for do not pass, very unusual. I've only heard of it once,” bill sponsor Rep Denny Altes (R- Ft. Smith) says. "Somebody didn't like the bill. The whole section of code is real vague and we were just trying to help it, we didn't get it done."
Given how resounding this bill failed in committee, supporters of the legislation admit they're probably not going to try and bring it up again this session. But, perhaps in the future, rework it and try and see if they can get it passed.