Arkansas law (A.C.A. § 5-73-122(b)(1)) makes it a class D felony for anyone (other than a law enforcement officer, officer of the court, or bailiff, acting in the line of duty, or any other person authorized by the court) to possess a handgun in a courtroom. Now there’s at least two bills up for a hearing today in the Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee this morning to not only allow courtroom carry but to also repeal the authority of judges to stop the practice..
SB 660 as filed describes itself as an effort to “restore [the] rights of Arkansas to carry firearms in public places.” It would repeal A.C.A. § 5-73-122(b)(1) outright as well as most other firearms possession and licensing laws.
SB 728 repeals A.C.A. § 5-73-122(b)(1) and separately allows a concealed handgun permit holder to carry a gun into a courtroom or courthouse. Courthouse carry is currently prohibited under A.C.A. § 5-73-306(5) & (6) except for judges and, since 2015, elected officials and their staff who have an office in the courthouse (discussed here).
SB 728 takes this one step further and repeals the power of judges under 5-73-306(6)(A) to stop courtroom carry (“However, nothing in this subchapter precludes a judge from carrying a concealed weapon or determining who will carry a concealed weapon into his or her courtroom.”) (emphasis added)