LITTLE ROCK, AR - Should it be legal for you to walk around town with a gun on your hip? It's a debate that's coming to the Arkansas Legislature this session. But already those in support of the idea say the Governor is getting the details wrong.
Open carry of guns is a sensitive issue, with strong opinions on both sides. When it's brought up here at the capitol, supporters say they want legislators to know exactly what the bill will and will not do.
"I don't want guns in a sports stadium when people are drinking and rooting for their team and mad at a referee," Beebe says.
It's that statement from Governor Mike Beebe made to reporters earlier this month that supporters of a proposed open carry law are calling off-base.
"He talks about walking into a sporting event, I understand he's a busy man and hasn't had a chance to read the bill but we'd like him to," Stehle says.
Nicholas Stehle with Arkansas Carry says HB1051
, the Defense Carry Restoration Act, wouldn't allow guns anywhere they are banned right now, like sports stadiums or near schools. On Monday Beebe said that doesn't change his mind.
"Expanding that to open carry where they carry that on their hip open is something that I don't think is good public policy," Beebe says.
Only three states, Alaska, Vermont and Arizona have unlicensed concealed carry laws on the books. However, according to opencarry.org
, all but 7 states and the District of Columbia have some form of open carry laws on the books, but where a citizen can carry the weapon varies by state and municipality.
An open carry bill never made it out of a House committee two years ago.
"I will say I think we're going to run into some opposition, but I think we have a legitimate chance of getting it passed," Stehle says.
Stehle thinks the makeup of the legislature, with more freshman Republicans, means open carry has a better chance now. The House Judiciary Committee has 12 Democrats and 8 Republicans on it.
The bill does not have the support of Arkansas State Police. Spokesperson Bill Sadler tells FOX16 News there are already means in place for people to apply for a carry and conceal permit.
“It’s hard enough for police already cops on the street without adding open carry to it,” Sadler says. “We simply can not support the bill in its present form.”