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Arkansas City Plans to Prohibit Concealed Carry in Parks for Sake of “Consistency”

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Protection from confusing laws, or a slippery slope toward the restriction of Second Amendment rights? That’s the argument surrounding a proposed city ordinance in Russellville, Arkansas that would seek to ban carrying a concealed weapon in the city’s parks, but here’s the catch: the city doesn’t own most of the parks within its borders.

Of the 17 parks within Russellville’s limits, only a small number are actually owned by the city and therefore, until now, have allowed concealed carry. The rest, the vast majority, are actually owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased to the city. As is important to note, the United States military has its own particular rules regarding firearms on its property; the Army Corps of Engineers is no different, and it prohibits the carrying of any firearms, with a few particular exceptions for hunting in some areas, in all Corps-owned parks.

It is this particular quirk, the competing laws of Russellville and the Army Corps of Engineers, that has been used as the impetus for the new ordinance. According to Russellville Mayor Bill Eaton, the ordinance will provide consistency between all parks within city limits, and the ordinance originally came about after the police were called because a man was concealed carrying in a Corps-owned park and had to be asked to leave. According to the mayor in The Courier News Online:

If we use Corps guidelines in all city parks, then that makes it more simple for those who enforce the law. [The ordinance] is to make it a more clearly-defined way for our law enforcement to know how to apply the law. The city’s interest was to make all city parks comply to the one standard rather than having two standards and a law enforcement officer having to know in every park in the city which regulation applied there.

“What about state preemption for CCW?” many are asking themselves. Apparently, according to Chris Matthews of ArkansasCarry.com, the city council has a way around this: “Even with state preemption on firearms laws they do have the ability to enact this ban in parks if they post signs on all entrances (an AG opinion supporting this on city property exists).” The ban is also said to extend to all city-owned land, though how exactly this will be enforced has not yet been established. As of the last update of the ordinance, CPL holders will at least be able to store their firearms in their vehicles in the parking lots of these parks.

Nevertheless, this hasn’t pacified legal CPL holders. George Holt, president of the Arkansas River Valley Gun Club had this to say in The Courier News Online, ““I want that right (to carry a concealed weapon) and the Second Amendment gives me that right and what the city of Russellville’s trying to do is take that right from me. There’s some things that are more important than trying to fix something that’s not broken,” and commenter Clay Cooper on ArkansasCarry stated simply, “If enacted, the first person or persons who becomes injured or robed [sic] on City property should file a class action lawsuit!”

Parks and Recreation Director Mark Hollis, however, continues to compare the ordinance to more procedural rules such as park hours of use and glass bottle restrictions. With the change to allow firearms in car trunks, the proposed ordinance will have to be read an additional three times following its introduction to the Russellville City Council during its regular meeting this Thursday at 6PM.

Photo: Jere Keys from Flickr via the Wikimedia Commons

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • progunone45

    Unfortunately the governments of both city and nation keep chipping away at Second Amendment rights! There always seems to be some kind of justifying excuse but hopefully those excuses won’t hold up in the courts. Parks in many, many areas are the places where a citizen really does need to be armed and if the law would allow it then the criminals won’t hang around in those parks!

    Laws like this seem to come up in the places where people have a completely anti-carry bias and don’t really understand how carrying a firearm is adeterent to criminals!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Ess/100000666571492 Dan Ess

    Apparently the man was not Carrying Concealed; if he was, no one would have known. Outside of that, it’s absolutely ridiculous that people are not allowed to carry weapons on any property that is owned by the people of the USA. We own the property, not the US Military, we also own them, they are our employees.

  • SEE IT LIKE A NATIVE

    Law abiding citizens should always be able to be armed if they so choose ! I did not say allowed , because it is not up to the government to allow us to be armed ! It is an inalienable right ! It is the duty and responsibilty of government to protect that right !

  • Andrew

    Considering that CCW is now allowed in Federal Parks, the inconsistent part to this is on the part of the city & the Army Corp of Engineers. Maybe they need to be brought up to speed, & someone can fill them in on a document referred to as the Bill of Rights.

  • John R. Fonseca

    What will the sign say, “Criminal Friendly Zone”? I’m
    sure that any criminal intent on committing armed robbery will see a sign
    banning firearms and decide to go somewhere else, just to give his intended
    victim a sporting chance….NOT! How stupid
    must the city officials be to think that a sign will make a park safer? The only people that will comply with the
    sign are the very people that will not be a problem in the first place…