Jun 29, 2022 - News

Making sense of Arkansas' gun laws

Illustration of a gun with a gavel for a trigger.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Some Arkansans may be wondering what's in store for gun owners following recent conflicting headlines.

Driving the news: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that an existing New York law restricting concealed carry was unconstitutional. Two days later, President Biden signed into federal law a bipartisan gun safety bill.

Why it matters: Arkansas is ranked No. 47 in the U.S. for its weak gun laws by Everytown for Gun Safety.

  • The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranked Arkansas No. 50 for gun safety strength.
  • The state has among the highest number of deaths due to firearms with 22.6 per 100,000, according to both Everytown and Giffords.

The other side: "Just to be fair, a pro-gun group would say, 'Yes, but we call that No. 1, 2 or 3 not 47,'" Robert Steinbuch, a professor at UALR's Bowen School of Law, told Axios.

The big picture: There've been 293 mass shootings in the U.S. since Jan. 1, including the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were murdered.

Details: The SCOTUS decision won't have an impact on Arkansans who conceal carry because the state's law was already far less restrictive than New York's, Steinbuch told us.

  • A native New Yorker, Steinbuch said the law there essentially limited gun owners to inside their homes or at a range, unless a resident had a clearly demonstrated purpose.

Yes, but: The new federal gun safety law will impact future firearm buyers in Arkansas.

  • It includes enhanced background checks for those under age 21, funding for mental health and school safety as well as incentives for states to implement "red flag" laws.

The law also addresses the so-called "boyfriend loophole" by including convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Go deeper: What the Senate's bipartisan gun deal will change

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