Rep. Denny Altes brought his open carry handgun bill before the House Judiciary Committee today and after some rigorous questioning saw it shot down in a hail of hostile fire.
After almost an hour of discussion, the committee approved a rare "Do Not Pass" motion on the bill.
Rep. John Walker asked for any evidence of the value of authorizing open carry. Altes and the gun lobbyist who accompanied him had none. Others asked how the 2nd Amendment was infringed by limiting carry to people with concealed carry permits. Cost of the permit, was Altes non-constitutional justification. They were asked about allowing open carry by people without firearms training. Good question: If open carry is allowed, might not many more public places post prohibitions of weapons and thus chill the drive to have ever more people packing guns? Another good point: While 43 states were said to have open carry, many states allow local jurisdictions to override the provision. Arkansas, however, thanks to the NRA, has outlawed more restrictive local ordinances. Naturally, the gun lobbyist opposed a "patchwork" of differing laws.
Even the gun lobbyist was forced to admit that the gun-friendly 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on local gun laws did not overrule all regulation of firearms.
State Police, Arkansas sheriffs and Arkansas chiefs opposed the bill. A State Police spokesman said the gun lobbyist's claim of 43 states with open carry was incorrect — only 11 have unlimited open carry. The State Police said officers don't have time or means to check when they encounter a gun-carrying person in a traffic stop or elsewhere whether they are responsible weapons owners.
It was a pure smack-down and Republican legislators were among those raising questions about the bill. If I heard the streaming broadcast correctly, Rep. Kim Hammer of Benton offered the "do not pass" motion.
Altes had indicated earlier that his bill was in trouble. Gov. Mike Beebe opposed it. I wonder if even some of the gun-toters thought this was not the best time — weeks after a highly publicized slaughter in an open-carry state — to broaden gun laws?
ALSO ON THE GUN NUT BEAT TODAY: U.S. Rep. Mike Ross tells D.C. residents and home rule to go to hell, he introduces legislation to force permissive gun laws down the throats of D.C. residents.