by Max Brantley
A House committee is expected to take up today the bill, prompted by a Blog post, to close records of the names of concealed carry permit holders in Arkansas.
This would end additional public accountability on potential mistakes in granting permits and subsequent misdeeds by permit holders. It extends secrecy to a class of citizens that isn't extended to voters, property taxpayers and dozens of others who've applied for privileges granted under state regulatory laws.
The Times will be among opponents to the law change, but the emotions attached to this subject seem insurmountable. As I've written, my own experience has illustrated that there are people with gun permits who should not have them.
UPDATE: The bill passed. The committee decided to limit debate to five minutes for each side after the committee members had asked questions. John Anderson of the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association spoke for the bill. Times Publisher Alan Leveritt spoke against. Rep. Lindsley Smith cast the solitary "no" vote. The bill will likely come up for a House vote tomorrow and will likely pass there. The only hope for killing the measure may rest with the Senate Judiciary Committe, which voted down the "guns in church" bill a couple of weeks ago.
UPDATE II: Max here, checking in on today's news from out of state.
The House committee today ratified what a leader of the NRA said the other day: Those with the guns should make the rules. That's not the American way, but it is the NRA's way.
It is a sad day when publishing of public information can be characterized as irresponsible. When fear, threat and demagoguery control release of public information, information is no longer public. Secret government is unaccountable government. Thanks to one vote for open, accountable government from the representative from Fayetteville.
PS -- Blaming a vehicle burglary somewhere in Arkansas on publication of a list of concealed permit holders is a stretch. And those who fear being located by the list? They best not be registered to vote.
Finally, I figured Rep. Dawn Creekmore, not highly regarded here, would seek a pound of flesh. It's ironic that she's pushed stalking legislation this week that would, effectively, make a crime of the harassing actions pursued against me since publication of the list in the Times. Perhaps she wants to reconsider, or at least provide a legal exception for offended gun permit holders? They seem to be held apart from everyone else.