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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 23, 2019 1:00 am

Public will always need protection

Jim Lucas

Jim Lucas, a Republican from Seymour, represents District 69 in the Indiana House.

As the “extremist” author of the protection of individual rights legislation that Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law at the NRA convention, I must respond to the recent article to The Journal Gazette by Anita Rogers and Noblesville Standing Together (“Missed opportunity,” May 16). Rogers mentioned three things as primary factors in school safety: building security, mental health and guns.

School shootings, while extremely rare, are a horror of incredible magnitude. Our responses must be based on facts, reason and logic and not rhetoric and emotion.

As a parent and moral human being, I sympathize with those who have been a victim of any violence. And yes, my thoughts and prayers are with them. However, I find it offensive that I and others are called extremists because we disagree on how best to deal with these tragedies.

Building security sounds obvious, but we must remember that buildings can only be made to be so secure before they become impractical or prisonlike. Even then, there are no guarantees that weapons will not find their way in.

The Parkland, Florida shooter simply walked through a door that had intentionally been left unlocked because of human nature, and the shooters at Sandy Hook and Richmond were able to get inside schools by shooting through locked doors.

Physical barriers do little to stop those willing to murder children and who have the benefit of picking their time and place.

School resource officers are school security, but at an average cost of $70,000 annually, they're expensive and deflect valuable resources from other important areas. Recently, I authored legislation that trained volunteer school staff to an hourly level equal to that of Indiana police academy graduates. For the first-year cost of just one resource officer, 45 school staff volunteers could be highly trained, saving millions of local dollars annually.

Also, single resource officers are no guarantee of preventing a school shooter from getting inside.

How do we best define mental health and its treatment? What level is adequate and how would doing more than what we're currently doing guarantee that another incident will never happen?

Indiana already spends hundreds of millions of dollars on school counseling, outpatient services and mental health treatment in our public schools. Sadly, much of this consists of over-prescribing pubescent children mood-altering drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Human beings are unpredictable, and no matter what level of mental health treatment we deliver for the more than 1 million children in our schools, it is impossible to foresee these incidents.

Rogers' main issue was guns. But, before the Columbine incident 20 years ago, school shootings were largely unheard of and students were bringing guns in their cars onto campuses.

What has changed? I believe we are experiencing the consequences of decades of assault on the family unit, supplanting personal responsibility with a government program, eliminating discipline in our schools and replacing individual effort with participation trophies. Normal teenage angst has also been greatly amplified by the pressures of social media. We, as a society, must be intellectually honest about the causes of these tragedies and not just treat the symptoms.

Reasonable people can agree that people proven dangerous shouldn't have guns, and we already have laws for that. However, I believe that most of our existing gun laws are as dangerous as they are immoral.

Not only are they ineffective in stopping people from committing heinous acts, they make law-abiding people easy victims for those who don't obey them. Sadly, this has been proven time and again by the heroic actions of people who have been made defenseless by so-called gun free zones yet rushed gunmen anyway and paid the price with their lives.

Making good people helpless does not make bad people harmless and, ironically, when all else fails, people with guns are always called.