Yet another weapons bill hit committee this afternoon as the House Judiciary Committee considered Rep. Mark Martin’s legislation to allow people to carry firearms in plain sight. The bill’s lack of provisions for training and its apparent permissiveness toward the open-carry of machine guns was too much for the committee. Though Rep. Martin did not agree with these criticisms, he pulled the bill down for amendment to ensure that it would not be legal for children to wield a gun.
Several legislators suggested they might vote for the bill if it required some sort of permit or training for open carry, but Rep. Martin firmly resisted making a change. He argued that such a requirement would place a financial burden on impoverished people. The poor who couldn’t pay would be unable to exercise what Rep. Martin considers a constitutional right to bear arms in the open. In response to the comment that anyone who owns a gun can also afford a training course, Rep. Martin responded that a gun might be inherited or earned from some sort of program.
“[A fee] would have a chilling effect on people who were discriminated against before,” Rep. Martin said in reference to the 19th century slave laws he cited to justify the necessity of open-carry legislation.
“At what point do what stop expecting a training program to teach people and start trusting them to act responsibly?” Rep. Martin inquired.
There was some questioning about the relationship of the proposed law to current concealed-carry requirements. It was discussed whether the bill would grant greater lenience toward concealed-carriers who violate certain provisions of their permits. For example, there would no longer be ramifications for a concealed-carry holder who commits “inadvertent revealing of the weapon,” as Rep. Martin phrased it, since the open-carry law would override concealed-carry.
Rep. Steve Harrelson said the bill appears to allow people to carry machine guns in public. Rep. Martin responded that current law is ridiculous and needs to be corrected; as it is now, kids could be prosecuted for carrying baseball bats, he said, or hunters could be arrested for carrying a gun to a duck camp.
Among the flaws committee members pointed out, Rep. Martin would only concede that the bill does not explicitly prevent children from availing themselves of open-carry privileges. He will likely offer the measure again after amendment.