With gun control back on the national agenda, Arkansas Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel may have been more involved in a lawsuit against Remington Arms than he has previously disclosed, according to court documents obtained by Hotline On Call.
During his 2006 election, McDaniel said he was in law school and did limited work on the case which was brought by his father's law firm following a 1998 school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark. "I was in law school at the time," McDaniel said, per Area Wide News. "It was filed following the Westside shooting and I worked on it for the law firm."
Yet, court documents filed on Oct. 29, 1999, show McDaniel's signature and bar number. McDaniel's name is also listed on a document filed on January 5, 2000, about a trial date -- nearly two years after he graduated from law school in 1998.
"The court records obviously prove that he was involved in the lawsuit," said Republican consultant Keith Emis.
Rhonda Patton, an administrative assistant within the Arkansas Judiciary's office of professional programs, said that to receive a bar number in Arkansas, a candidate must have passed the bar and a Multistate Professional Responsibilities Exam, in addition to other requirements. To take the MPRE candidates must have a law degree from an ABA-approved law school. McDaniel was admitted to the bar on March 23, 1999.
"I am a staunch defender of Second Amendment rights and have argued for those rights in two of the biggest cases on gun rights of the last 5 years," McDaniel said in a statement to Hotline On Call. "My limited involvement in a products liability case, handled by my father's law firm when I was right out of law school is irrelevant when it comes to my record on protecting and defending the Second Amendment."
McDaniel's campaign declined to comment further.
McDaniel is in a tough place, politically, given his involvement in the case and national Democrats' recent push for gun control. Being perceived as pro-gun control is largely considered a non-starter for politicians in Arkansas; currently, the state legislature is currently considering loosening state gun laws to allow concealed handguns to be carried in church and, in some circumstances, on college campuses.
McDaniel has been quick to push back against any sense that he favors curbing Second Amendment rights, saying last week that he finds President Obama's gun control plan "distressing."
McDaniel received an A rating from the NRA in 2010, but his position on gun control would likely be under close scrutiny in the general election, with the former Rep. Asa Hutchinson looking like the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. Hutchinson is working with the NRA to develop a school safety plan and has suggested putting armed guards in schools.
"When it comes to the Second Amendment there's a clear distinction between Dustin McDaniel's record and Asa Hutchinson's record, and I suspect that will be a part of the campaign," Emis said.
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