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Arkansas scores near the bottom of the Brady bunch thanks to its lax gun control laws. The 2007 scorecard released last week by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Arkansas a big goose egg on four out of five categories, putting the state in a six-way tie for 37th worst in the nation. Only eight states scored lower.

Our stellar ranking comes from the state's failure to fully regulate gun dealers, require lost or stolen guns to be reported to police, limit bulk purchases of handguns, require background checks for gun show sales, ban assault weapons, require child safety locks sold with each handgun and require handgun purchasers to be at least 21.

California came in first with a score of 79 out of 100; Kentucky and Oklahoma tied for the worst score, with only 2 points each.

Evolving in Jonesboro

Arkansas State University is doing its bit to fight the darkness: In celebration of its new “Hall of Science” exhibit that opens next week, the school will show documentaries on the life of Charles Darwin and serve birthday cake in his honor on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Earth-centrics beware: ASU's “Week of Science” will also feature a celebration of Galileo's birthday Feb. 15 with cake, a documentary and “singing.” The new exhibit, in the Laboratory Sciences Center, will include the skeleton of a porpoise, a marine aquarium with 50 species of fish, information on current research at ASU, a seismographic monitor keeping up with the New Madrid Fault and last, but not least, the alligator specimen Big Arkie. A DNA statue is planned for the entrance.

Sitting early

We read that some Republican members of the House of Representatives show up hours early to get choice seats for the president's State of the Union address, so that they're more easily seen on television, hopefully close enough to the president to shake his hand or whisper in his ear on-camera as he goes by. We asked Rep. Vic Snyder, a Democrat from Little Rock, about this practice. He explained that there are no assigned seats in the House; members can sit where they choose. Theoretically, one side of the aisle is for Democrats and one side for Republicans, but in practice, there are always members of one party sitting on the other party's side. Some Democratic members also like to reserve choice seats for the State of the Union and other special occasions, Snyder said, but instead of arriving early, the Democrats write their names on a piece of paper and stick it on a seat, or use a business card, or sometimes even the card that's used to vote on the House voting machine. Personally, “I don't like to do that,” Snyder said. By the way, what did he think of President Bush's State of the Union speech Jan. 28? “I thought it was remarkable for how uninspiring it was,” he said. “He can give a good speech, but he didn't do it this year.”

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