by Max Brantley
The Democrat-Gazette's Michael Wickline had a fine and thorough story today about the National Rifle Association's right-to-hunt amendment, which is likely to be whooped onto the Arkansas Constitution next year.
The outlines were long known. The state Game and Fish Commission has long believed it will diminish its power, but the gun nut lobby was simply too strong to overcome, particularly in combination with Sen. Steve Faris, the inside-the-chamber telephone lobbyist who's emerged as a key legislative actor. For political reasons, G&F fell in line, though several continued to voice strong objections.
Relevant tangent: What the people propose, the people can dispose. The alarm from the gun nuts about states that have limited hunting of certain wildlife (mourning doves in Michigan, for example, for sound reasons) is alarm about nothing less than the democratic process. They want to make democracy as hard as possible.
The amendment is a ticket, not to sound management of wildlife for hunters and anglers, but unsound management. You don't have to dream much to envision a world where the gun nuts view the Arkansas hunting amendment in the same expansive way they view the Second Amendment. In their minds, the Second Amendment confers no ability, none, to regulate weaponry, be they rifles, pistols, bazookas or suitcase nukes. The right-to-hunt amendment, likewise, will be seen by some as a device to prevent any regulation of wildlife taking. In some quarters, after all, dynamite has been a "traditional" fish harvesting device.
But, back to my real point of the morning: What's Steve Faris up to? He's now repeated that he has no designs on a statewide office in 2010, thus scotching rumors that he'd like to run for secretary of state, an office where he schooled as Bill McCuen's top aide, or perhaps treasurer. He apparently has told some that his grand plan -- his gun nut resume now well-burnished -- is to run for Congress in 2014 when Rep. Mike Ross runs for governor. On this issue, he'd be a "worthy" successor. He just needs to do a little public praying and whip up on some gay people and he'll be good to go.