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OPINION

BRUMMETT ONLINE: A shameful display

By John Brummett

This article was published July 11, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

No gun-use restriction of any sort is going to be approved by this Arkansas General Assembly.

The only form of firearm proliferation that will be denied by this Legislature is guns at collegiate sports contests, and then only on the demand of the Southeastern Conference and at the personal behest of the Republican governor daring to cross, just once, the National Rifle Association.

Our Republican legislators — well, yours, not mine — are, alas, weak. They tremble before the gun lobby. They are afraid of the voters, who might accept a few sensibly restrictive gun laws by their own independent judgment — until, that is, the NRA sent bad legislative report cards into their mailboxes.

A Republican legislator might get a B-minus, a failing grade, if he or she … well, let’s see … indicated that maybe schoolteachers shouldn’t carry guns in classrooms or agreed to let women in their Moms Demand Action red T-shirts, and who dare to worry about their kids’ safety, speak at a legislative committee meeting.

That was a regrettable, even shameful, occurrence Monday at a hearing on school safety and guns conducted by the legislative Joint Performance Review Committee.

The shame was the absence of courtesy and open, accountable and democratic public debate. It stemmed from pettiness, rudeness and arrogance — legislative pettiness and rudeness and arrogance, to be specific.

It also may have resulted to some extent from misunderstanding.

What happened was that the Joint Performance Review Committee provided a speaker-signup sheet for its meeting on school safety and gun issues. Then it ignored the signups from people it didn’t like.

It permitted testimony only from previously scheduled pro-gun witnesses who testified dubiously that arming teachers would deter school shootings more than having resource officers on site, and that background checks would have stopped no recent mass shooting (though that’s incorrect at least in the Dylann Roof case).

The permitted testimony included that of a national gun-galore advocate, Dr. John Lott, whose pro-gun research findings are vigorously contested by Moms Demand Action. Lott is widely reported to have gone online masquerading as a Mary Rosh to praise himself and his work, even assert as Mary Rosh to have been a student of himself, and never to have experienced a more marvelous instructor than himself.

That is what passes for right-wing expertise and credibility in the era of Donald Trump, who once exercised his crush on himself to disguise himself and call a reporter to brag on himself.

Then, after several Moms Demand Action members had sat through three hours of testimony for which they had ready rebuttal, Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, a co-chairman, declared the meeting over. She said the meeting had been scheduled only for fact-finding and that the other side could comment at a future session after the committee had set a “plan of action” based on its fact-finding.

In other words, the Joint Performance Review Committee declared that it would chart its future course based only on the debatable testimony it had heard from only one side. It provided that the other side would be indulged for its futile whining only after the committee had considered exclusively the side with which it agreed.

It seems to me — but I’m old and inflicted with minority views — that Arkansas mothers ought to count at least as much to Arkansas elected representatives as a national gun-lobby shill.

It seems to me — but I’m old and inflicted with minority views — that now-abandoned Arkansas views of courtesy would have required that a couple of the moms who had signed up to speak get permitted to come forward and say a few politely indulged words representing politely ignored views, considering how long and patiently they had waited.

Irvin has responded to me at length to defend herself, her committee and the process she says is being followed. Everyone will be heard in time, she promises. She didn’t know a speaker signup sheet had been put out by the staff, she said. She had intended all along, and had previously been planning, for another session devoted to Moms Demand Action and other interested parties, she said. State Sen. Will Bond, a Democrat, confirmed to me that Irvin had been working with him on a later hearing covering gun-restrictive ideas.

I appreciate that. I can’t appreciate, though, that she and the committee didn’t see the value in veering from their purposefully one-sided agenda of Monday to accommodate passionate citizens in the audience who had signed a list to be heard.

Irvin argued that courtesy was best served by letting one side get heard without being contested, while the other side could be heard later, presumably also without being contested.

She said debate best takes place after a bill has been proposed. But I find that another way of saying the Legislature wants to write a bill excluding Moms Demand Action and let the gun-restriction movement complain only in futile opposition, not have input during the bill-writing process.

Maybe we should do our presidential debates that way. I can hear the network promotion now: Donald Trump’s presidential debate will be Monday. His Democratic opponent’s debate will be the day after the election.

Irvin also gave me the usual refrain that conflict sells newspapers and that she and the committee are only trying to protect kids, yet media people won’t emphasize that.

It’s always the media, isn’t it?

I replied to Irvin that the publisher could thank me later if advocating legislative courtesy to concerned Arkansas mothers sold a few newspapers.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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Comments on: BRUMMETT ONLINE: A shameful display

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RBear says... July 11, 2018 at 6:52 a.m.

And we get a big pile of nothing from Wowy, the idiotic imbecile of the boards. I often wonder if an education was actually wasted on him or hopefully he didn't occupy space that some more deserving soul could have filled. Then again, at least he's filling one on those minimum wage jobs out there waiting for low-skilled Trump freaks.
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Putting Wowy's insane rant aside, thank you John for shedding light on this sham of a process during the hearing. Yes, I've read some of the overt ranting of Lott on several occasions. He's often quoted by our resident gun fetish freak in here as a sound, rational POV, ignoring all the factual rebuttal against his positions.
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If one thing can be gleaned from this sham of a process, it's that Hendren's proposal to broadcast the Senate proceedings and panel meetings is long overdue. In TX, this petty display of power by Irvin would have been streamed, recorded and played back to expose her behavior to the world. Maybe a little transparency to their antics would help the AR legislature. But, I'm sure it's going to take a little public shaming for that to really happen. Thank you for letting us know about Irvin. She will get an e-mail.

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TimberTopper says... July 11, 2018 at 6:53 a.m.

John a good and enlightening read. I see one of the known mentally challenged people has already made comment, and as usual the hot air that is put out by him is as useless a windshield wiper on a goat's a$$. But, that is probably his value to society as well.

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K5LJC says... July 11, 2018 at 7:52 a.m.

legislative pettiness and rudeness and arrogance, the Democratic party's only agenda.

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RBear says... July 11, 2018 at 7:54 a.m.

K5LJC did you actually read Brummett's column or just commenting out your a**? Irvin is a Republican. So maybe you should sit this one out while you figure things out and let the adults discuss.

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Delta2 says... July 11, 2018 at 8:06 a.m.

Mark this column, and let's see if Irvin holds true to her word that Moms Demand Action will get equivalent, uncontested time in front of her committee. I sincerely hope it's not 30 minutes with a peanut gallery of opposition in attendance, interrupting every other sentence.

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BoudinMan says... July 11, 2018 at 8:21 a.m.

This is the repugs' idea of open and transparent. After all, the comments by the pro-gun side were made in public.

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DoubleBlind says... July 11, 2018 at 8:28 a.m.

Why no mention of Hendren’s ‘shameful display,’ screaming at Moms that ‘You’re not my people!’ to suppress any opposition. Future meetings should all be taped and streamed live.

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hah406 says... July 11, 2018 at 8:29 a.m.

RBear, I hope Wowy didn't occupy that space in school. Currently, he is wasting oxygen that could be better utilized by someone that doesn't smoke crack and post at 3 am. Irvin wants to be a big fish in a little pond here in Arkansas. Anyone know how much money she takes from the NRA each year? Finally, to all you "more guns everywhere" legislators, if more guns make us safer, then by God let people tote them right through the Capital rotunda and into the gallery while the state House and Senate are in session. I mean, if a bunch of people had guns up there, that would make you safer, right?

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GeneralMac says... July 11, 2018 at 8:49 a.m.

hah406............apples to oranges

There already is armed security at the capital
There should be armed security at the schools

Why let that brainless group get up and repeat their LIE..........." teachers shouldn't be FORCED to carry a gun "....... when NO SCHOOL is advocating FORCING teachers to carry guns.

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3WorldState1 says... July 11, 2018 at 9:11 a.m.

" legislative pettiness and rudeness and arrogance". From the elite Republicans? You don't say.

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