Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas just filed a bill in the state legislature that would mandate all professional journalists get a license before practicing their First Amendment rights to a free press, a measure he says is designed to teach reporters a lesson about restricting Americans’ gun rights.
“If you’re OK licensing my Second Amendment right, what’s wrong with licensing your First Amendment right?” he said.
Lucas is currently fighting to repeal Indiana’s state law requiring law-abiding citizens to have a license to carry a handgun – efforts that he says have been met with negativity and open bias in the press.
In response, Lucas is proposing that journalists go through the same rigorous licensing process to exercise their First Amendment rights that Americans must endure to practice their Second Amendment ones, saying that irresponsibility in the news media is just as dangerous as that with a gun.
“If I was as irresponsible with my handgun as the media has been with their keyboard, I’d probably be in jail,” he said to local reporters.
Under his bill, professional journalists would be required to submit an application to the Indiana State Police, get fingerprinted, and pay a $75 fee. Anyone with felony or domestic battery convictions would be banned from getting a license.
According to the IndyStar, Lucas has stayed pretty mum on whether he’s actually going to push the bill through the legislative channels, at one point claiming, "Why wouldn't I push for it? If one constitutional right is OK to license, then they all are.”
While the largely rhetorical bill isn't likely to ever see the public light of day, it’s an interesting approach to challenging a press that clings to the First Amendment when their rights are threatened, but don’t seem to care much about the Second.