by Max Brantley
I couldn't begin to catalogue all the steps taken by the Arkansas legislature to combat a problem that doesn't exist. Has anybody tried to limit guns in Arkansas in the last 40 years?
But the lawmakers have OK'd guns in church and guns in church schools and guns on college campuses; taken steps to protect gun owners and merchants from civil or criminal liability for dealing with the wrong sorts of people, and I don't know what all. Amazingly, open carry and Bullet Bob Ballinger's gun interposition law did not pass.
But just so you'll know, Rep. Nate Bell is waiting in the wings with a favorite Republican ploy — a constitutional amendment to pre-empt legislation on his pet topic for all time. As the abortion forces have made abortion constitutionally impossible in Arkansas, should the Supreme Court ever relent, and as the homophobes have made equal treatment of gay people unconstitutional until the Supreme Court corrects the injustice, and as the gun nuts have irrelevantly enshrined hunting constitutionally, Bell now plans a further constitutional option for guns.
He writes on Facebook:
Next week I will present the Arkansas Firearms Freedom Amendment of 2014 to a joint meeting of the House and Senate State Agencies Committees. If added to our state constitution the new language will be an important protection for the right to keep and bear arms in Arkansas. The final text of the amendment will be engrossed into the joint resolution on Monday or Tuesday. The resolution is the culmination of efforts by several dedicated representatives and I'm proud to be the lead sponsor of this important amendment. I will do my best to ensure that it is one of those referred to the people for a vote in the 2014 general election.
It's almost certainly superfluous to the broad protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution and without meaningful present value, except that it will handcuff Arkansas against future enlightenment and a currently unanticipated need for some common-sense gun safety regulation by the people's body. Frankly, given the current crop of legislators, it is a fair argument that tying the legislature's hands is not a bad idea.
By the way, the 1874 Arkansas Constitution, way up high, already addresses the matter of guns. It's instructive, I think, because it says more clearly what the U.S. Constitution also says, at least what everyone thought it said until the U.S. Supreme Court reversed precedent and wooled it around a bit:
5. Right to bear arms.
The citizens of this State shall have the right to keep and bear arms, for their common defense.
We could hope when the joint state agencies committees get down to the business of arriving at three constitutional amendments to propose, they'll devote attention to more practical topics with more value than symbolic political fist pumping and gun waving. Vain hope, I'm afraid.
One last tangent. Saw this Twitter below by Fiddlin' Jason Rapert last night. Had some thoughts about those who don't feel safe unless there's a weapon in each night stand. Do they carry them along on midnight trips to the refrigerator and bathroom? And, if not, what happens if a malefactor were to break in at that precise moment? Are the weapons carried to the dinner table? Kept in a drawer by the reading chair or in the recliner with the TV remote? Can one feel truly safe unless armed at all times in all places? Somehow, the old Buffalo Springfield song came to mind. You know ... the man with a gun in his hand ... paranoia strikes deep ... it starts when you're always afraid.