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Monday, August 22, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana mayors to lobby statehouse for help on gun ordinances"

That is the headline to this lengthy (with video) WTTV4 story by Russ McQuid. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The phone calls to Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton’s office began in June when parents reported a man was spotted walking around the municipal swimming pool at Bryan Park with a gun on his hip.

“A lot of people didn’t know who he was and a lot of people called me and said, ‘Whoa! Do with have guns at our pools? Can’t we stop that?’” Hamilton recalled. “The short answer is, no, we’re not allowed to stop that.”

Mayor Hamilton’s summer of gun questions continued on the 4th of July as his city’s annual freedom celebration featured not only a 21-gun salute to kick off the festivities but a pickup truck in the parade sponsored by the Panther Ridge Training Center that carried a man holding a M60 machine gun with a bandolier of bullets hanging down.

“And we got more phone calls from people saying, ‘Wait a minute…there’s a machinegun coming down our parade. Can’t you stop it?’” said the mayor, “and I can’t.”

That’s because of a 2011 Indiana law, endorsed by the National Rifle Association and passed by the General Assembly, that prohibits mayors and local councils from passing even minimal ordinances at the town and city level to restrict the display of firearms in public.

“I can’t pass a regulation, a law, anything to do in any way with guns ammunition or accessories,” said Hamilton, “and if I do try to do anything, I’m subject to triple attorneys’ fees, penalties, so we’re all prohibited from doing anything.”

About the only thing Hamilton could do was write an OpEd piece for the New York Times titled, “Pistols at the Pool, Machine Guns on Parade and Nothing We Can Do.”

“Our preemption law on the state level is so comprehensive that, with very few exceptions, little room exists for mayors for any local action at all,” said Dr. Jody Madeira of the I-U Maurer School of Law. “When mayors go to the statehouse and lobby, their hands are tied, unfortunately, just like citizens’ hands.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is similarly frustrated as he watches the city he inherited last January steadily head for another record murder tally to potentially surpass last year’s total of 144 criminal homicides.

“After all as mayors we are held accountable and responsible for the gun violence in our cities,” said Hogsett, “and what Mayor Hamilton was saying was, ‘Please give us the flexibility, give us the ability, to respond in meaningful ways to varying degrees of violence.’”

Hogsett said he would be look forward to joining with other Indiana mayors such as Hamilton in approaching the General Assembly this fall to lobby for some moderation in the state’s gun ordinance restrictions.

“I would think if you could focus on the very most important thing I could do in conjunction with the rest of my mayoral colleagues throughout Indiana is go after these next elections in November, go to the new governor, go to the newly constituted general assembly, and ask for more local control over those issues.” * * *

“Some common sense gun approaches are important,” said Hamilton, “and as a mayor my people want me to do something ahead of time, not just wait until something terrible happens to respond. The problem is in Indiana I’m not allowed to do anything about that ahead of time.

“We’re not against hunters, we’re not against firearms for self-protection, and reasonably controlled, we’re not against the Second Amendment. We are against being held hostage to this crazy radical idea that you can’t make modest and common sense controls over things that kill 30,000 people a year.”

Medeira said “common sense” gun restrictions are in the eye of the beholder.

“Its very hard precisely to define what ‘common sense’ means because there are some crazy situations that come up in law that place one person’s Right to Carry against another person’s right to be safe.

“If the state preemption law were to be made less restrictive, or lifted entirely, I think you would have mayors place additional limits on gun dealers in their jurisdictions that say, ‘If we’re going to have a gun show, we’re going to have all transactions take place through background checks, we’re going to have domestic violence laws in this area that apply not only to married couples as they do statewide but also to couples that are dating and dating violence,’ and that’s a loophole that can be closed.” * * *

Hamilton said local authorities need, “regular people speaking up to representatives and saying, ‘This is just crazy, do you really want people with guns walking around a swimming pool full of kids and parents laying around putting sunscreen on? Do you really want a machinegun with bullets attached riding down the middle of Main Street in a July Fourth parade?’”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 22, 2016 10:42 AM
Posted to Indiana Government