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How they voted
Northeast Indiana House members voted 11-1 for Senate Bill 226, which removes a provision making possession of a firearm on school property a felony. The bill also prohibits a law enforcement agency from conducting a firearms buyback except with private funds. Yes
Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne; Casey Cox, R-Fort Wayne; Kathy Heuer, R-Columbia City; Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse; Matt Lehman, R-Berne; Dan Leonard, R-Huntington; Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne; David Ober, R-Albion; Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn; David Wolkins, R-Angola; Dennis Zent, R-Angola No
Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne
Gun-free zone sign in Dimmitt Middle School, July 18, 2000.

School gun bill does nothing to keep students safe

Tradeoffs. Without them, civilized life as we know it would be impossible. For instance: The state has granted you the privilege of driving a car on a public street. But that doesn’t mean you can drive in the oncoming traffic lane, or drive 155 mph, or ignore stop signs and red lights.

Another example: You have the right to have a pet at your home, but that doesn’t mean you can board a cow in your city apartment or raise a family of rattlesnakes on the front lawn. Most of us accept this sort of thing.

So why is it that when the subject of gun rights enters an equation, our legislators seem to banish the very concepts of tradeoffs, compromises and competing rights of society? No, sir. No, ma’am. The Second Amendment says we have a right to guns, and everything else is out the window.

A case in point is a measure to allow private citizens to bring guns onto school property as long as the weapons are locked in their vehicle and out of view. Seventy-four members of the Indiana House voted for this bill; presumably the majority of the Senate will follow suit. One searches for an explanation.

Perhaps these legislators have not heard of the horror of the Sandy Hook massacre. Perhaps they do not have children in school or know anyone who does.

But, of course, they have and they do. And there are reasons for their stance, some of which legislators articulated before the vote. Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, argued that the bill would recognize the right of a soccer mom to keep a gun in her vehicle while she attends a game or has a meeting with a teacher. Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, also stressed individual rights. “Don’t make law-abiding gun owners felons for exercising their right to self-protection,” he argued.

Now, out of context, those are sensible points. If we grant people the right to carry concealed weapons, they should be able to do that all the time – unless another concern outweighs that right.

The need to keep weapons away from schools trumps even the need for the soccer mom to have her handgun close at hand. In fact, the need to keep children safe in school outweighs just about any other right we can think of offhand.

If coming to school to watch your child play soccer is so all-fired dangerous that you’ve got to have quick access to a sidearm, where exactly does that leave the kids?

Rep. Lucas asked legislators not to be emotional about this bill. What’s wrong with showing a little emotion about doing everything we can to keep innocent children from being shot while they’re sitting in school?