By Aubrey Woods | For The Republic
A proposal by a Seymour lawmaker to license journalists is unconstitutional, according to an advocate for 167 of the state’s newspapers.
If the goal of District 69 Rep. Jim Lucas, however, is try to get some media attention for another one of his proposals, eliminating the requirement that Hoosiers obtain a permit to carry a handgun, he has accomplished it, said Steve Key, executive director of the Hoosier State Press Association.
“If his proposal is a clever ploy to draw attention to something that is dear to his heart — the Second Amendment — he has succeeded,” Key said.
Lucas, a Republican, said Thursday he has actually considered other measures to require people to have a license to go to church and to vote.
The controversial lawmaker said he drafted the measure to require journalists to be licensed earlier this year because of how they have misrepresented what his “constitutional carry” would do.
“I’m calling professional journalists out on it,” he said.
Lucas contends the Second Amendment guarantees people the right to bear arms and they shouldn’t have to have a license to do so.
“People are still misrepresenting it,” Lucas said.
His newest proposal would require professional journalists to submit an application to the state police. Journalists would be fingerprinted as part of the process and would have to pay a $75 fee for a lifetime license. Those with felony or domestic battery convictions would be prohibited from getting a license.
The First Amendment protects freedom of religion, speech and the press.
Key said if Lucas is serious about believing there should be licensing of journalists, any such legislation wouldn’t go anywhere in the General Assembly because the First Amendment protects freedom of the press, religion and speech.
Lucas said if people are OK with licensing one constitutional right, they should be OK with doing the same for other constitutional rights.
“If they are OK with giving the government that kind of power,” he said.
Lucas said legislation for the 2018 Indiana General Assembly has to be filed by Dec. 8, and he has yet to decide if he will file the bill requiring journalists to obtain a license.
“It depends upon the media,” he said of coverage of his ‘constitutional carry’ measure. “It’s out there, and I have an official draft that licenses another constitutional right.”
Lucas said the idea of requiring licensing for any constitutional right disgusts everybody as it should.
“Actually seeing it (the proposal to license journalists) in print, it is very reprehensible and incredibly scary,” he said.
He said requiring people to obtain a license to carry a handgun is the same.
“I’m simply trying to point out the danger of when you open that door,” Lucas said.
Key said he is concerned that Lucas is considering filing the measure to hurt journalists.
“I hope that’s not his real intent,” he said. “That’s not how the General Assembly is supposed to work.”