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Editorials July 28

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Envying Arkansas A courageous middleweight from Little Rock wins the world championship. His defeated opponent, who spent the weeks before the bout sneering at Jermain Taylor’s home state, petitions boxing officials to overturn the decision. A fabulous bird, long thought extinct, is found in the swamps of East Arkansas. The applause hasn’t died before three biologists who didn’t find the bird are disputing the discovery. Arkansas envy is raising its ugly head again. It was never more apparent than at the 1992 Republican Convention, held in Texas. The first President Bush, a quasi-Texan, used the convention as the stage for a vicious attack on Arkansas. “The lowest of the low!” he squawked, while renegade Arkansans like Asa Hutchinson pranced merrily at his feet. (Did Asa actually burn an Arkansas flag on the floor of the convention? It was never proved.) Class tells in the end. The Bush who maligned Arkansas was defeated by a native Arkansan who presided over eight years of peace and prosperity, and left office with his head and his popularity high. The protest of Jermain Taylor’s victory was dismissed by the appropriate authorities. We’re confident those who doubt the sighting of the long-missing woodpecker will be proved wrong too. (Do they hope to claim the bird for Texas? Birds are found only where there are trees.) It’s here. It’s ivory-billed. Get used to it. Rash Ross What has Mike Ross gotten us into? Or, to put it another way, what has gotten into Mike Ross? The 4th District congressman has invited the National Rifle Association to hold its 2007 national convention in Arkansas. According to news reports, the convention would bring 50,000 to 70,000 NRA members — all armed, presumably — to the host city. That’s a lot of firepower to have dropping in on you. Could our ivory-billed woodpecker possibly survive? And NRA members are not only armed, they’re excitable, quick to take offense at politicians who don’t do what they want, and people who express opinions contrary to their own. The reason the NRA is looking for a convention site for 2007 is that it pulled out of Columbus, Ohio, after the Columbus City Council voted to ban the sale or possession of certain semiautomatic rifles. Ross was correct in assuring the group it needn’t fear anything like that in Arkansas, where the legislature has prohibited local governments from enacting any sort of gun control ordinance. If the NRA does hold its convention in Arkansas, the legislators should be required to board delegates. And Mike Ross should have to take in some too, although we suspect that if the NRA really does come, Ross will discover he has urgent business in Washington, a city that will be comparatively safe.

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