Local control, fundamental rights and Bob Ballinger | Arkansas Blog

Monday, February 16, 2015

Local control, fundamental rights and Bob Ballinger

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 7:42 AM

GUNS AND GAYS: Two exceptions to Bob Ballinger's belief in local control. - KAI CADDY
  • Kai Caddy
  • GUNS AND GAYS: Two exceptions to Bob Ballinger's belief in local control.

State. Rep. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville acknowledged the contradiction last week when he carried Sen. Bart Hester's bill to take away local control on passage of civil rights ordinances rather than suffer another Fayetteville or Eureka Springs ordinance to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

Ballinger said he is for local control except when he isn't.

I'd been down this road with Ballinger before, in a discussion at the University of Arkansas Law School in September 2013. Nullification and secession were among the topics of a symposium. I joined Ballinger, then-gubernatorial chief of staff Morril Harriman and faculty member Nate Coulter on a panel on the subject.

Toward the end of the session, Coulter asked Ballinger, a devotee of states rights, to take the big government/small government question down to the next level. He asked about the 1993 law in which the state of Arkansas pre-empted local governments from making any laws respecting guns.

Might there not be a time when a local government was better able to judge its needs? Might circumstances in Little Rock and Hindsville differ? Wouldn't he want to repeal a big government law telling a smaller government what to do?

You can see the full exchange at the link. Some relevant parts, with my emphasis. Said Ballinger:

Any time "big government" tells "little government" what to do, it raises red flags. If local government determines they desire more restrictive firearm regulations, for whatever reasons, I would vote and lobby against it, and I may give money to oppose it because I support the Second Amendment. More precisely, I acknowledge the God-given right of self-defense. Nevertheless, I generally do not want the state telling the city what to do. Remember, the larger the government entity, the more restricted the individual’s liberty to escape oppressive rules by leaving. More than any institution, the Federal Government eliminates the ability of the individual to avoid what he or she might perceive as a violation of rights.

I noted that the same legislature that stripped local control of guns had also argued that local governments — school districts — should be able to override state rules on guns in school. Said Ballinger:

While a proper response to your broad generalizations would require more time than we really have, let me suggest, in short, that there is a notable difference between the state imposing a restriction on home rule when it is protecting a fundamental right as opposed to when it is restricting one. Let me conclude by observing that preferences do not carry the same weight as fundamental rights and would naturally be handled differently.

I guess Ballinger, Hester and co. believe that stripping a class of people of equal treatment under the law is not restricting a fundamental right, but merely restricting a preference. 

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