patriots at the capitol
Members of Arkansas Patriots, a Second Amendment rights group, came to the Capitol to signify support of the sovereignty bill vetoed by the governor. Brian Chilson

About a dozen members of the gun rights group Arkansas Patriots stood vigil in front of the Capitol today. Wearing head-to-toe camo and tactical gear and carrying long guns, the Patriots said they came out to let lawmakers know they opposed Governor Hutchinson’s veto of a “sovereignty bill” that would prevent federal gun laws from being enforced inside state borders.

“I don’t want to lose my Second Amendment rights with the federal government coming in and overreaching,” Brandon Wilson said. Arkansas Patriots has about 250 members, and the representatives who came to the Capitol Monday represent all parts of the state, he said.

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As Wilson stood outside, Arkansas senators inside voted as he hoped they would and overrode the veto. The House is expected to take up the issue tomorrow. If they also vote to override Hutchinson’s veto, this bill will ostensibly become law, although it blatantly flouts the supremacy clause that gives federal laws precedence over state laws, so we will have to see what the courts do.

Arkansas prosecutors and the Game and Fish Commission were among those who spoke up over the weekend in favor of sustaining the veto. Game and Fish noted that nullifying federal gun laws could lead to the federal government withholding about $18 million they rely on every year.

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One armed Patriot who asked to remain anonymous said he doesn’t mind paying higher taxes to make up the difference. “I understand the governor is nervous about losing federal funding, but I”m OK with that,” he said.

The anonymous man was carrying an AR-15 but kept the clip in his pocket. He said he was a veteran, and that he was worried about the federal government getting too big.  He wants “to make sure I don’t have somebody crawling up my butt telling me what to do all the time.”

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Meanwhile, inside, fellow gun rights supporters packed the gallery of the Senate chamber to watch senators debate and vote on the veto. Among them was Jan Morgan, a well-known gun rights personality who has announced her intention to challenge John Boozman for his Senate seat.