A state lawmaker in Indiana has proposed legislation requiring state police to license professional journalists.
Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican from the city of Seymour in the southern region of the state, has been critical of press coverage of his efforts to repeal laws requiring a permit to carry a handgun. He claims the media has frequently mischaracterized his proposal in news stories, editorials and columns.
“If I was as irresponsible with my handgun as the media has been with their keyboard, I’d probably be in jail,” Lucas stated. “Why wouldn’t I push for it? If one constitutional right is OK to license, then they all are.”
The bill to license journalists, which Lucas claims is designed to grab attention instead of seriously be considered, is nearly identical to Indiana’s law requiring a license to carry a handgun. The proposal would require professional journalists to register with state police. They would be fingerprinted and pay a $75 fee for a lifetime license. Applicants with a prior felony conviction could have their application rejected.
Andrew Seaman, chairman of ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists, notes that the First Amendment is not without restrictions.
“The truth is that there are already a number of restrictions on the First Amendment. We have libel laws, copyright laws and countelss others that rein in the speech and press rights under the First Amendment.”
Lucas’ bill to license media in Indiana is one of many efforts to seek publicity on social issues. In December, he posted on Facebook an image of a woman in a car trunk with the title: “Wanna know who loves you more your wife or your dog? Lock them both in your trunk and see who’s happy to see you when let them out (sic).”
And in June, Lucas posted a letter he wrote to a reporter at the IndyStar advocating arming women, suggesting they learn “how not to be a victim.”
The post was condemned by advocates of domestic violence, prompting Lucas to issue an apology.
I might introduce this as the “NWI Times Amendment” to a bill next session, since they allow such loose journalism! 😃 pic.twitter.com/kfqrdTluzr
— Jim Lucas (@LucasSemperFi) September 3, 2017