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Staying down 

Staying down

You don't have to tell the House of Representatives twice to take cover. Under fire figuratively from gun lovers, afraid the fire might become literal, the House members were so far under their desks when they voted on HB 1623 they could hardly reach the “aye” button. They did, though, in their desperation. The vote was 98 to 1. Many of the representatives know that HB 1623 is a bad bill, but only Rep. Lindsley Smith of Fayetteville had the courage to vote against it. The State Police should post a trooper at her desk the rest of the session. Armed and unstable people now hate her, and some may be inside the House chamber.

Gun lovers like to say that they support the First Amendment, that it is their weapons that protect free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. You might think you were talking to an ACLU member except for the bulge under the coat. But if there's any challenge to what they consider the most important right — the right to fire at will — the gun lovers' true nature emerges, in anonymous death threats, made late at night to those who've expressed opinions contrary to their own. Their true nature is to fill the First Amendment full of holes, and, if need be, those who invoke it. 

Always fearful in the extreme, and therefore dangerous, the gunners became even more agitated when the Arkansas Times published on its blog a state database containing names and addresses of Arkansans who hold permits to carry concealed handguns. The people have a right to know what's in public records, the Times said, and the press has a duty to tell them. Shut the **** up, the gun lobby replied. The Times deleted the data base from the blog site after numerous threats were made on the lives of the Times editor and his family.

HB 1623 was then introduced by Rep. Randy Stewart, D-Kirby, and a host of others. It prohibits the release of “the identities or other information concerning concealed handgun licensees.” Sponsors said the identification of handgun carriers put them at risk. The gunners' usual argument — that criminals are discouraged by the knowledge their intended prey is armed — was casually refuted.

“We have just told the bad guys where the good guys are,” Stewart said of the Times' publication of the list of carriers. He seems to believe the good guys are those who carry guns, the bad guys are those who don't, and the bad guys should finish last, when allowed to finish at all. Ah, if only being a good guy was as easy as getting a concealed weapon permit. 

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