Legislators seek more security for the state Capitol | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Legislators seek more security for the state Capitol

Posted By on Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 7:56 AM

SAFE ENOUGH: Legislators and the secretary of state's staff are talking about more security at the Capitol.
  • SAFE ENOUGH: Legislators and the secretary of state's staff are talking about more security at the Capitol.

Is it coincidental that a sudden interest in stepping up security at the state Capitol comes with the changing political landscape to solidly Republican?

Just asking. In any case, both legislators and officials in the secretary of state's office are suddenly talking about more security. The nominal secretary of state, Mark "Not the Race Car Driver" Martin, doesn't have much personal reason for concern. He appears at the Capitol only sporadically, spending a great deal of his time back home in Prairie Grove pursuing private engineering work. He's been in office four years and hadn't demonstrated strong feelings about more security until recently. Of course he's also been in office for four years without pressing for improvements in the state's dated election machinery, a concern of the office under the Constitution.

(PS: I'm still looking for details, but Martin's staff did shake up the Capitol maintenance department the day after the election, moving to fire three long-time employees, including a 14-year Capitol plumber for reasons that remain unclear. The plumber's dad appeared in a TV commercial for Mark Pryor, but that may only be a coincidence, too.)

If fear of security threats is high, perhaps it's time for a law to allow open carry at the Capitol. In fact, I'm not sure the law that prevents carrying of weapons in the Capitol is constitutional to begin with. What part of "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" don't lawmakers understand?

On a  less facetious note: If screening of Capitol visitors is a must, it has always been a problem that the elevator is in the ground floor vestibule, outside the screening station. If Capitol police aren't paying close attention it's possible to dash into the elevator without passing through the screening. I've been around long enough to remember when doors stood open on every side of the Capitol and there was a much smaller security presence. The worst damage was done by filmmakers who smudged the dome once with a fake rocket shot and, of course, by lawmakers doing all kind of damage to the body politic under cover of official legislative action.

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