by Max Brantley
Rounding up the overnight notes:
* PINE BLUFF: COULD BE WORSE: Fox 16 reports on a British newspaper report that calls Pine Bluff the most crime-ridden little town in the U.S. Crime data puts its crime rate behind only Detroit, thanks to 18 homicides in the city of 49,000 in 2012. Not to worry:
"To have 18 homicides is just an outrageous number for a town this size," acting Police Chief Jeff Hubank told The Independent.
"The reality is, the little old white lady with the kitten on her lap is perfectly safe in this town. But if you are slinging dope on the east side, you are looking to pay with your life."
* UNCONSTITUTIONAL ABORTION BAN IN COMMITTEE TODAY: A House committee will consider today for a second time Sen. Jason Rapert's patently unconstitutional bill to ban most abortions beginning with the 12th week of pregnancy. It fell one vote short of approval last week, in part because anti-abortion Republican Rep. Justin Harris voted no. He objected to an exception provided for fetal anomalies. He made a post on Facebook last night that says, as expected, he'll vote yes this time He writes that he and his twin sister were born despite fetal anomalies. Several amendments to the bill, including exceptions for rape and incest, do not make this bill constitutional. Plaintiffs will race to the courthouse to win lawsuits over this violation of women's medical autonomy.
* FIRST FETUSES AND NOW GUNS: Yesterday I quoted Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger's threatening language (joking, he says now) in the course of his explanation for legislation he planned to declare invalid any further federal gun regulation. Ballinger is a lawyer. I asked him if he really believed the state could invalidate federal law and, moreover, if he believed as he seemed to indicate that gun regulation is unconstiutional. Even gun nut Antonin Scalia has explicitly written that all manner of regulations are allowable under the 2nd Amendment. Ballinger responded:
I have been misquoted and a little mischaracterized, but it is not too far off. The Federal Government can pass gun laws and has - many of which has been upheld as constitutional. Some of those laws should not be under the jurisdiction of the Federal government, but I am not arguing against those laws. The point of concern is that there are some individuals who would like to see much more federal regulations of firearms. They believe that the only answer to ending violence is by making it difficult for individuals to acquire firearms. The problem is that new laws only regulate the lawful and limiting availability of firearms by any measurable standard would only be achieved by wide scale confiscation. In the current climate I don’t expect any new legislation requiring confiscation to be passed, however, we never know what the political climate will be in the future. I hope to cut off the possibility of any new onerous federal regulation before it becomes a burden to Arkansans.
I am sure we will disagree on firearm regulations, however, I hope we can communicate in a manner that would be pleasant.
Not exactly a precise answer. But he does outline a plan for a bill to address an imaginary threat with a law likely unconstitutional in the unlikely event the state ever tried to pre-empt enforcement of a federal statute. He'd be better off with a resolution, stating philosophical objections to any further regulation of guns. But that would be reasonable and legal. Such niceties are of minor concern these days.