Gun Free Zones Won't Require Signage Under New Law

Arkansas' expanded gun rights law goes into effect Friday

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - This Friday, Arkansas' expanded concealed carry law formally goes into effect. People will soon be able to take guns into places they never have before, such as bars, as long as they have an enhanced carry permit.

But once that law goes into effect, it may not be obvious to tell which establishments have opted out of expanded carry as "gun free zones." A provision in the new law allows businesses to refuse concealed carry without posting signs. Instead, state representative Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) says management can communicate one-on-one to customers either verbally or in writing. An example of that would be security or a bouncer working the door of a bar informing customers no concealed weapons allowed.

Collins says allowing businesses that discretion should let them feel comfortable as gun free zones without leaving the people inside as sitting ducks.

"It allows an establishment to choose to refuse to allow conceal carry," Collins explained "but not advertise to the world, including advertising to bad guys, that the people inside may be more susceptible to some type of crime."

In that situation, Collins says someone with a concealed weapon and enhanced carry permit cannot legally be forced to leave. However, it will be against the law to return to that establishment with a weapon.

Bars are arguably the most notable new places where concealed guns will legally be able to go. Bill Ball, manager of Town Pump in Little Rock, says come September 1 their "no weapons" sign on the door will stay firmly put.

"You don't mix guns and alcohol," Ball said.

Ball says they'll be keeping a closer eye out for weapons, lest customers have any confusion with the new law in place.

"Probably have a little more on the door security for a little while," he said.

The law technically goes into effect Friday, September 1 but it's mostly a formality as no enhanced carry permit training program is in place yet. Arkansas State Police have 120 days starting Friday to develop that curriculum. Rep. Collins says Arkansas likely won't be seeing legal guns in bars, or any new location allowed with an enhanced permit, until early 2018.

There are no changes in the law affecting current Arkansas concealed carry permit holders.

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