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OPINION | LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Meaningless awards | Not solving problems | Constitutional rights

April 19, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

Meaningless awards

Recently, I received a Judge of the Year ballot from the Pulaski County Bar Association. Although I am a member of the Pulaski County Bar Association and could have voted, I did not vote for anyone.

Shortly after passing the bar in 1968, I attended an Arkansas Bar meeting in Hot Springs at which Judge Jack G. Day of the Eighth Appellate District of the Appellate District of the Court of Appeals of Ohio spoke. Judge Day said: "A judge may have humility, a judge may have integrity, a judge may have intellect and humanity, but without the courage to do what is right regardless of the political consequences--then these other qualities do not have much value, for they never come into play."

I served with many fine judges, both on the trial bench and the appellate bench, who possess the above-mentioned qualities cited by Judge Day.

It has been said that to serve as judge is one of the highest callings in a civilized society. A popularity contest does not make a judge better or worse, and it does not serve to make ours a more civilized society. What is the purpose of selecting Judge of the Year? What should the recipient do with the award? Put a thumb tack in it and pin it on the bulletin board for colleagues to see? Surely, the Pulaski County Bar Association could use its resources on more worthwhile projects.


Little Rock

John Mauzy Pittman is retired from the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

Not solving problems

This session, Arkansas legislators are more concerned with creating problems than solving them, such as two bills that nullify federal gun regulations in the state, setting us up for potentially expensive litigation and constitutional conflict. SB59, the "Intrastate Firearms Protection Act," and SB298 (with its companion bill in the House, HB1435), the "Arkansas Sovereignty Act of 2021," are overlapping Second Amendment protection bills that punish local and state law enforcement for assisting federal prosecutors in investigations related to federal gun regulations. The problem is these bills are misnomers. They don't actually "protect" Arkansans from federal prosecution under federal law.

In 2013, Kansas passed a "Second Amendment protection act" nearly identical to SB298. However, two individuals who thought they were protected under the statute still faced criminal charges for violating federal gun laws. When taken to court in United States v. Cox, the accused individuals lost, and Kansas' Second Amendment protection act was deemed unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. As such, SB298 and SB59 are already losing bets for Arkansas, and losing bets for any gun-owning Arkansan who thinks they are protected by them.

Consequently, the problems this legislation raise are clearer than the problems it solves. Many legislators justify their efforts by declaring the General Assembly has the duty to check the executive branch and federal government. Indeed, they have taken it as their personal obligation over their duty to the citizens of Arkansas. While necessarily within their power and in light of other regressive legislation that has garnered bad national press, it must be debated whether or not their show of force is productive or problem-oriented. I believe it is neither.



Constitutional rights

I'm compelled to respond to the letter by Carol Ann Bone. First of all, the United States Constitution says "shall not be infringed." The Constitution doesn't say you can only own one gun, or one type, or have limited magazine capacity.

She mentions "gun control" and says people don't need a lot of guns. What's her problem with me owning multiple guns? I can only use one at a time, but I enjoy shooting several different types of guns, including rifles, shotguns and pistols, also different models of guns from different manufacturers. Does that somehow make me a threat to other private citizens? The obvious answer is no, it does not. Why is there a problem with me owning any kind of gun, with any magazine capacity? There simply is none.

I'm not the one she needs to worry about. There's an old saying that goes, "When you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns." Yeah, it's a cliché, but it's also absolutely true. She says our state isn't a war zone, and people don't need "repeater rifles." Our state isn't a war zone, but it does have bad people in it, and bad people can simply drive into your neighborhood and try to kill you and take your property. It happens virtually every day. And, trust me, they'll be very well armed.

If a law-abiding citizen wants to own a semiautomatic rifle to defend their home, why is that a problem? Remember: law-abiding citizen. When you make laws restricting a citizen's right to defend themselves and their family, you're just making it easier for criminals to do their evil deeds. Gun laws only hurt those who obey the law, and have absolutely no impact on criminals who refuse to obey them. Instead of restricting peaceful citizens, why not greatly increase penalties on repeat-offender violent criminals? Don't take away my constitutional right to protect myself and my family with whatever kind of gun suits me best. Punish the bad guys.



Center for elder care

Is there anybody out there? We could make Arkansas one of the most important states in the country instead of the least: Become a center for elder care.

That market is not going away and we have a lot to offer. A slower pace, less congestion and activity, and yes, more religion may not be attractive to the young strivers, but they are downright therapeutic to the elderly. All we need are state-of-the art facilities staffed with employees who are highly trained and paid accordingly.

As the movie "Field of Dreams" said, if you build it they will come. We already have national draws in Arkansas Children's Hospital and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Why not add elder care to the list?




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