Beebe: Lt. Gov. "embarrassed himself" with "sneaky" signing of guns bill

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Gov. Mike Beebe had some choice words for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr Tuesday.

Darr signed a bill Friday making the personal information of those who have concealed carry permits no longer subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Beebe was out of the state at the time for a meeting of the National Governor's Association. The state constitution provides that any time the governor leaves the state, the full power of the governor's office immediately passes to the lieutenant governor.

The governor said he does not believe there were any legal questions raised by Darr's actions because he had already publicly said he intended to allow the bill to become law but he still called Darr's actions "inappropriate" and "sneaky," saying that Darr "embarrassed himself."

Beebe originally said he would neither sign nor veto the bill. The Arkansas constitution says that if the legislature sends the governor a bill and he does not act on it one way or the other then it becomes law by default after five days, not counting Sunday. That means this bill would have become law on Monday regardless of if Darr had signed it on Friday or not.

Darr said at the time that, "having been an outspoken advocate for Second Amendment rights, I felt passionately that there should be no delays in signing this bill into law."

Beebe said that he and the lieutenant governor had a good working relationship until now and that he would be "much more careful" about leaving the state from now on.

Darr issued a written response Tuesday, saying:

"I respect the office of the Governor, the Constitution of the State of Arkansas, but mostly I respect the citizens of Arkansas and the 130,000 citizens that are now protected under this law.

"I want to thank the number of constituents who have called and emailed in support of this law. People like Donna Schaefer of Carlisle, who took the time to come to the Capitol today and express how grateful she was. Donna and her 82 year old mother were two names that were released yesterday by a reporter here in Little Rock. Her story is an example of why I felt the urgent need to sign this bill into law.

"It is important to remember that Act 145 received a tremendous amount of support from the Arkansas Legislature with a vote of 84 to 9 in the House and 24 to 9 in the Senate."

KATV's Erin Hawley spoke with Lt. Gov. Darr in person. She will have more of his reaction and the governor's statements tonight on Channel 7 News at 5:00 and 6:00.