LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – While Arkansas faces another legislative session with a gun-focused bill at the forefront, the state was ranked the second most “gun friendly” in the country. The ranking comes according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Forbes, and has to do with registered guns per capita, manufacturing, and local and state laws that protect gun owners and firearms.
For some, this isn’t surprising news. “Arkansas has always been a very gun-friendly state,” said Dallas Green with Gun Owners of Arkansas. “People are taking an interest where they haven’t before just because of the political climate, I believe.” And the interest in guns seems to grow every year. With 35 pro-gun bills passed in the last three legislative session, and more introduced this year, Green predicts Arkansas will continue to look out for their firearms. “We will probably continue to lead the way,” she said.
But others don’t see it that way. “Those numbers, I think, are excessive,” said Kymara Seals with the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. And for Loriee Evans with Indivisible Little Rock/Central Arkansas, the influx of guns in Arkansas poses a challenge, as do the laws that protect them. “We need lawmakers who will legislate out of fairness and not out of fear,” she said.
Arkansas EDC says for every 1,000 Arkansans there are 27 registered guns. But what that doesn’t include are the guns that fly under the radar. “I do not believe in these unregistered weapons on our streets,” said Seals. “We need to get rid of these weapons off our streets and out of our communities.”
With laws such as the “Stand your Ground” bill (SB24) moving through the Capitol, this debate over whether Arkansas is too gun friendly will continue as both sides work to find a middle ground. SB24 will next go before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.