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Monday, March 10, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "GOP lawmakers hostile to opponents of guns at schools proposal" [Updated]

Hmm, here is a story on one of this morning's conference committees, reported by Dan Carden of the NWI Times, that begins:

Republican state lawmakers defending their plan to allow Hoosiers to carry guns in school parking lots were accused Monday of bullying conference committee witnesses who argued that guns at schools will make children less safe.

State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, repeatedly challenged opponents of Senate Bill 229, at one point going so far as to pull up the resume of Zionsville's Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and questioning her personal and professional affiliations with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other political action groups.

He was joined by state Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, who bizarrely yelled that his wife has the right to carry a gun, while Watts testified that women and children are more likely to be killed than a criminal if there is a gun in the home.

Later, state Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute, joined in, laughing at the idea that the Second Amendment provides for potential restrictions on where guns can be taken.

State Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, the conference committee chairman, did nothing to rein in his colleagues, especially Lucas, who took four turns questioning a witness -- usually only one chance is allowed -- and shushed another when she dared to ask him a question in response.

Tomes also insisted that guns already are too regulated and licensed handgun carriers never do any wrong.

While watching the two-hour spectacle, state Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, tweeted: "Bullying...it doesn't just happen in schools."

[Updated at 1:54 PM] Here is another story, this one by Chelsea Schnieder of the Evansville Courier & Press (oddly, no paywall, right now anyway). A sample:
Lawmakers sitting on the conference committee that will ultimately decide the final version of the legislation had, at times, heated exchanges with opponents of the bill.

Opponents characterized allowing guns to remain in school parking lots a major policy shift that would provide access to weapons and restrict local school boards from making policy. Supporters of the bill – namely Republican lawmakers who spoke out on the measure and a representative from the National Rifle Association – said the measure would protect the constitutional rights of a gun owner to keep a firearm locked in a car in the parking lot without running the risk of committing a felony.

As associations representing Indiana superintendents and principals testified against the measure, their representatives were repeatedly asked if they thought a licensed gun owner should face a felony charge if they left a firearm in a locked vehicle in a school parking lot.

In his first time chairing a committee hearing, Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, said he’s had teachers and assistant principals ask him to get the bill passed so they aren’t treated “like a criminal.”

The legislation would allow licensed gun owners to keep their firearms inside a locked vehicle in a school parking lot as long as it’s out of sight.

“I know this is a concern that a lot of people have,” Tomes said. “I don’t think (in) any of these shootings occurred in our schools – as tragic as they are – that it was someone who took a gun out of a car on school property.”

Shannon Watts, a mother of five children from Zionsville, Ind., and founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said the legislation would allow loaded guns near children in a place where they should feel safe. Watts recalled the Newton, Conn., shooting where 20 children and six staff members were killed in 2012 as an example of why “unregulated access to guns must be limited and not encouraged.”

“Schools do not want firearms on their properties and neither do the mothers of Indiana,” Watts said.

In one of the more tense exchanges, Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, asked Watts if she felt his wife as a mother of three and former school teacher should give up her right to self protection as she goes to and from school.

“Your premise that women are somehow made safer by a gun is factually incorrect,” Watts said.

Eberhart answered Watts by asking why his wife’s rights should be precluded and that his wife, “has the constitutional right for self protection.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 10, 2014 01:58 PM
Posted to Indiana Government