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Packing heat 

In the wake of the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in Tucson, North Carolina Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler told Politico.com: "You never think something like this will happen, but then it does. After the elections, I let my guard down. Now I know I need to have [my gun] on me."

With that in mind, we asked the Arkansas delegation if they, too, planned to pack heat in the wake of the Arizona shootings.

Rep. Tim Griffin, who represents the Second District, does not currently have a concealed-carry permit, a spokesperson said. Anna Nix, a spokesperson for Rep. Rick Crawford, said the First District congressman did not have a concealed-carry permit and did not plan on applying for one.

Third District congressman Steve Womack said in an e-mail, "I have a concealed carry permit. I do not discuss when/why/where I might carry a weapon."

A spokesman for Democratic congressman Mike Ross, of the Fourth District, refused to answer the question, saying the office did not comment on security matters. However, concealed-carry licenses are a matter of public record. A call to the Arkansas State Police turns up a concealed-carry permit for a Michael Ross, complete with the area code of Ross' hometown, Prescott. Bill Sadler, public information officer for the State Police, said that while he couldn't be 100 percent certain of the exact identity, "the law is pretty particular about the use of formal names, so that would explain Michael instead of Mike."


Lubrication

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has hinted that his department might try to regulate hydraulic fracturing. A November press release from his office raised questions about the chemicals used in frac fluid and the effects they may have on water quality.

But a certain group of congressmen called the Natural Gas Caucus — of which our own Rep. Mike Ross is a part — doesn't want regulation. Pro Publica reports that the caucus sent Salazar a letter urging him to avoid imposing any new regulations on the natural gas industry.

The 32 members of the Natural Gas Caucus received a total of $1.7 million from the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2010. The average contribution to members of the caucus was $54,455, but Mike Ross brought in much more than that: Ross came in third on the list at $125,850 in contributions.

Ross could not be reached for comment by press time.

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