Men at Gun Range in front of State Capitol



By Dr. Fred Potato
Radio Free Ozarks Editor
October 10th, 2022

Money from Arkansas’ share of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would be used to build an outdoor gun range near the southeast corner of the Arkansas State Capitol, under a legislative proposal announced Tuesday in Little Rock. Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders and State Representative Jason Bogard (R-Davis County) detailed the plan during a news conference held Tuesday on the Capitol lawn, next to the site of the proposed facility.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure deal is a radical left spending spree that the country cannot afford. With this bill Joe Biden is fueling runaway inflation that Arkansans cannot afford,” Sanders stated in her brief remarks. “That said, once I am governor I plan to use the funds on tax cuts, tax refunds, tax offsets, and one or two infrastructure improvements like why we’re here today.

“The gun range will be free to state residents, with an online sign-up for a time slot. We’ll have volunteer rangemasters. We’re in talks to have some of the Project Appleseed instructors come in to get us started. For those traveling to reciprocity states we anticipate that the rangemasters will be able to hand out concealed carry licenses.”

Bogard, who will be introducing the bill in the next legislative session, described the inspiration behind the proposed addition to the Capitol grounds. “I have spent a lot of off hours farting around in this part of Little Rock during the legislative sessions,” Bogard said. “My boredom from the lack of amenities on a Sunday led to this wild idea, and the more I thought about it the more it seemed like a great idea. I called Sarah to get her onboard. She said ‘You had me at guns’.

“Arkansas is a 2nd Amendment state. Waving guns around and shooting at stuff are part of our soul. What better way to own the liberals by having such a well-equipped firing range right here at the seat of state government? And it will look great in our campaign ads, showing us shooting at whatever or whoever with the Capitol right there in the background.”

An accompanying press release included a photoshopped satellite image of the Capitol with the proposed changes. Nearly all of the southeast lawn would become part of the gun range, with a tall berm built up on the east, west, and south sides and with participants firing to the south. Approximately seven mature trees would be removed under the plan, with three monuments/memorials shown as relocated.

Capitol Handout image
Map showing proposed gun range (handout image courtesy of Office of Rep. Jason Bogard)

Bogard explained that the large berm was necessary to avoid any shots going astray. “And it is my understanding, if any shots get loose and fall onto someone’s property south of I-630, I mean, they are used to that sort of thing already,” Bogard explained. “How would they know it came from here? But we won’t allow the longer-range sniper rifles. You know, ain’t gonna have some guy bringing his TAC-50 down here. At least not officially. That would be cool, though.

“And we’ll bring the usual school groups here to tour the Capitol, spend the morning learning about gun safety, basic marksmanship, Confederate War history, Antifa suppression, urban warfare tactics, plus all the everyday ‘hey, you looking at me?’ scenarios. Then they’ll spend the afternoon firing off a few hundred rounds each from the standing, sitting, and prone positions. Ammo is expensive right now, so there will be some subsidies thrown in. The Secretary of State will be required to negotiate the best price for a bulk ammo purchase.

“There’s some trees that will need to be replaced,” Bogard noted. “There’s three memorials that will need to be moved. We do not take this lightly, but we would move them in the name of liberty. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Medal of Honor Memorial, and I forget the third one.” Sanders chimed in: “The Monument to Confederate Women. My favorite. We’ll move it closer to the front entrance.”

Sanders added: “My idea is that on certain days of the month we’ll set up a little 4-wheeler circuit so the kids can practice the critical life skill of firing a handgun from a moving 4-wheeler. Just like how I was brought up. My youngest keeps begging me for an assault rifle, like her siblings have. But until she’s older she’ll have to make due with the .22 revolver that Grandpa Mike gave her. But it’ll be great that my kids can come and play down at the gun range when mommy is busy in the Governor’s Office,” Sanders laughed. “Supervised by the State Troopers, of course.”

Bogard noted Arkansas’ long history with the 2nd Amendment. “We see this as preserving our heritage, where people know their place and stay in their lane. Where families, communities, schools are built on a foundation of guns, gun accessories, and gun culture. Sure, there’s more to life than shooting guns and talking about guns. There’s also talk about ammunition and the merits of each type. Sarah and I were just discussing the best hollowpoints brand for…” Bogard was interrupted when a car drove by on nearby Woodlane Street, honking its horn and playing loud booming music. Bogard immediately responded by pulling out a handgun that had been concealed in a shoulder holster beneath his blue suit jacket. Bogard held his gun at the ready in front of the startled attendees and waited for the disturbance to pass. Bogard then slowly re-holstered his weapon.

“The timeline for funding is not yet settled,” Sanders said, wrapping up. “With a little luck and good weather I’d anticipate a groundbreaking early next year. There could be delays. This site used to be a prison. I remember my dad getting briefed. Hard to turn a shovel here without bringing up human remains. But ideally a full opening by the end of next year. And I hope to have my boss, President Donald Trump, and my dad, Governor Mike Huckabee, here to cut or shoot the ribbon. What a rally that would be.”

Sanders was asked whether Secretary of State John Thurston supported the legislation. Thurston was not in attendance. The Capitol complex is maintained by the Secretary of State’s office, under the Capitol Facilities Division. “The Secretary of State had some strong opinions about this proposal,” Sanders responded. “He had a prior engagement and could not be here today, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

A reporter from the Arkansas Good Times noted that Sanders and Bogard had emerged from the Capitol building while walking to the news conference. Bogard was asked whether his carrying a handgun inside the Capitol building was in violation of Arkansas law, which specifically prohibits carrying a gun, concealed or open, to any state office or any meeting place of any governmental entity. “Next question,” was Bogard’s icy response.

Bogard was then asked whether his showing off his concealed carry pistol earlier in the news conference violated Arkansas’ concealed carry laws, as the weapon was no longer considered concealed, and having an initially concealed weapon did not fall under open carry protections. Bogard paused in his response while stroking his goatee with his right hand. Bogard then used his left hand to slightly brush back his unbuttoned suit jacket to again reveal his holstered weapon to the crowd, then abruptly left the lectern without answering any further questions. Sanders shrugged and similarly started walking back to the Capitol, flanked by two Arkansas State Troopers.

Featured (top) photo attribution: derivative of capitol image RIMG0072_2 by Cliff, used under CC BY.