A license required to exercise the First Amendment? Indiana State Representative Jim Lucas has proposed a bill that would require journalists in the state to obtain a license.
“The state seems to be okay with licensing my Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Lucas told one media outlet. “What’s wrong with licensing someone’s First Amendment right?”
Lucas noted that the Second Amendment grants the people the right to own and bear arms, but that many states including Indiana require a license to carry a firearm. The state of Indiana, in what is almost a contradiction of terms, does not require a permit to own a handgun nor does the state have a system to register and track handgun owners. Indiana is rated by some as one of the top twenty gun-friendly states in the U.S.
The representative then went on to compare current journalism standards to the standards of gun ownership.
“If I were irresponsible in handgun ownership as journalists are with their words, I’d be in jail,” Lucas said. “Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are constitutional rights, as is the right to bear arms. You are either in support of our constitution, or you’re not. You can’t just handpick which constitutional rights should be licensed.”
The proposed bill is not the first of its kind. South Carolina State Representative Mike Pitts proposed a bill in 2016 that would have criminalized the practice of journalism without a license. The bill died when the legislative session ended.