In 2021, Arkansas repealed its law that required a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public.1
Arkansas has maintained its permitting statute, however, for individuals who wish to have a concealed carry permit for reciprocity in states that do require a permit. Arkansas is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a concealed weapons license if the applicant meets certain qualifications. The Director of the Department of Arkansas State Police (“the Director” and “State Police”) must issue a license to carry a concealed handgun if the applicant:
- Is a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident;
- Has been a resident of Arkansas continuously for the past 90 days or longer;
- Is 21 years of age or older;
- Does not suffer from a mental or physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a handgun and has not threatened or attempted suicide;
- Has not been convicted of a felony, without having been pardoned and had firearms possession rights restored, or having had the record sealed or expunged for a sentence prior to March 13, 1995;
- Is not subject to any federal, state or local law which makes it unlawful to receive, possess or transport any firearm, and has had his or her background check successfully completed through the Department of Arkansas State Police and the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System;
- Does not chronically or habitually abuse controlled substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired (i.e., the applicant has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a treatment facility for the abuse of a controlled substance or has been found guilty of a crime under the of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, § 5-64-101 et seq., or similar laws, within the last three years);
- Does not chronically or habitually use alcoholic beverages to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired (i.e., the applicant has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed as an alcoholic to a treatment facility or has been convicted of two or more offenses related to the use of alcohol within the last three years);
- Desires a legal means to carry a concealed handgun to defend himself or herself;
- Has not been adjudicated mentally incompetent;
- Has not been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or mental health treatment facility;2
- Is not a fugitive from justice or does not have an active warrant for his or her arrest;
- Has satisfactorily completed a training course as prescribed and approved by the Director; and
- Signs a statement of allegiance to the United States and Arkansas Constitutions.3
The Director may deny a license to carry a concealed handgun if, within the preceding five years, the applicant has been found guilty of one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor, or for the offense of carrying a weapon.4 The Director may also deny a license if the sheriff or chief of police of the applicant’s place of residence submits an affidavit that the applicant has been, or is reasonably likely to be:
“[A] danger to himself or herself or others or to the community at large, as demonstrated by past patterns of behavior or participation in an incident involving unlawful violence or threats of unlawful violence, or if the applicant is under a criminal investigation at the time of applying for a license to carry a concealed handgun.”5
The Director has 120 days to review the completed application, and in that period must issue the license or deny the application based solely on the ground that the applicant fails to qualify under the specified criteria.6
When the State Police receive notification from any law enforcement agency or court that a licensee has been found guilty of, or has pled guilty or no contest to, any crime involving the use of a weapon, the license shall be immediately revoked.7 In addition, the Director must revoke the license of any licensee who has pleaded guilty or no contest to, or been found guilty of, an alcohol-related offense committed while carrying a handgun.8
The Director may revoke a license if the licensee has been found guilty of one or more crimes of violence within the preceding three years.9
Firearm Safety Training
Arkansas requires concealed carry permit applicants to complete a training course prescribed and approved by the State Police.10 Training can be obtained from any person who is registered with the State Police as a Firearms Safety Instructor.11 Arkansas does not mandate how many hours of training applicants must obtain. Rather, instructors are required to evaluate an applicant’s competence via a live firing demonstration. Instructors may only certify that an applicant’s training is complete if he or she demonstrates “a basic level of knowledge, understanding, and practical operation for safe handling of a handgun.”12 In addition, the State Police publishes a manual that contains the minimum information to be covered in a training class. The manual is available at the State Police website.
Under a law enacted in 2017 (and effective September 1, 2017),13 CCW license holders may also complete an additional, one-time training course approved by the Director of the Arkansas State Police Department to obtain a “concealed carry endorsement” authorizing such individuals to carry loaded firearms in a variety of otherwise restricted public buildings and facilities, including public college or university campus buildings and the State Capitol.14 This additional training must be offered at “no more than a nominal” cost.15 The Director of the State Police is also authorized to exempt an applicant from up to 4 hours of concealed carry endorsement course instruction if the applicant received applicable training within 10 years of applying for the concealed carry enhancement.16
Duration & Renewal
Licenses to carry concealed handguns issued or renewed after July 31, 2007, are valid for five years from the date of issuance.17 (A license to carry a concealed handgun issued before that time was valid for only four years.) Those seeking to renew their license must pay a $35 renewal fee plus costs for processing a new background check, complete a training course and provide a digital photograph.18
Disclosure or Use of Information
The State Police must maintain an automated listing of license holders available on-line, upon request, at all times, to all law enforcement agencies through the Arkansas Crime Information Center.19
Medical, criminal, or other records collected pursuant to the licensing process must be kept confidential.20
The following records are exempt from public disclosure:
“Records pertaining to the issuance, renewal, expiration, suspension, or revocation of a license to carry a concealed handgun, or a present or past licensee under section 5-73-301 et seq., including without limitation all records provided to or obtained by any local, state, or federal governments, their officials, agents, or employees in the investigation of an applicant, licensee, or past licensee and all records pertaining to a criminal or health history check conducted on the applicant, licensee, or past licensee.”21
There are exceptions for:
- Information released to a law enforcement agency for the purpose of assisting in a criminal investigation or prosecution, or for determining validity of or eligibility for a license;
- The names of an applicant, licensee, or past licensee if contained in investigative or arrest reports of law enforcement that are subject to release as public records.22
Arkansas recognizes all out-of-state licenses to carry a concealed handgun regardless of whether the state that issued the license recognizes concealed handgun licenses issued by Arkansas.23 Although a permit is not required to carry concealed firearms in Arkansas, a person who has a valid concealed weapons permit from another state who becomes a resident of Arkansas may use an abbreviated procedure to transfer that license to Arkansas.24
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- Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-73-101 (defining “journey” to be any travel outside the home), 5-73-120(c)(4).
- Veterans who have been voluntarily committed can petition courts for permission to qualify for a CCW permit.
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-309(1). For detailed provisions concerning the application and background check processes, including information required on the application form, see §§ 5-73-310 and 5-73-311.
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-308(a).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-308(b).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-312(b).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-312(c).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-308(a)(1).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-309(1).
- 130 00 Code of Arkansas Rules and Regulations 001, et. seq.
- 2017 AR HB 1249, Section 8.
- Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-73-122(a)(3)(D), 5-73-322.
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-322(g).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-322(g)(2)(B).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-302.
- Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-73-313(b), (d), (e).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-307(a).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-311(a)(4)(C).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-105(b)(19).
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-321.
- Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-319.