A Conference Committee report released today provides new language to clarify Senate Bill 229 and to ensure guns are not allowed on school property when not being used exclusively for school functions; however, the bill still contains many egregious provisions that weaken gun laws and allow guns near children in schools.
“Indiana moms are gratified that the committee listened and responded to the testimony of Moms Demand Action by removing a particularly dangerous section of the legislation,” said Nicki McNally, leader of the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “However, we remain strongly opposed to legislation that would jeopardize the safety of our children by allowing guns in and around schools and school activities. It’s clear that the committee is in lock step with the Washington gun lobby, whose primary goal is to push legislation that allows more guns in more places even at the expense of our children’s safety.”
The current bill would allow guns at school functions off of school property, including field trips, prom and graduation, if it is otherwise legal to carry a gun at the venues where those activities are taking place. The bill also allows individuals to have guns in cars in public school parking lots, and would only make it a misdemeanor to leave a gun out in the open in an unlocked car. In addition, the bill completely removes school discretion in deciding whether employees may have guns in their cars in school parking lots.
The bill also restricts law enforcement efforts to reduce gun violence by limiting their ability to operate buyback programs intended to reduce the number of illegal guns on the streets. And it puts an additional burden on police by requiring them to auction guns for people whose guns are seized due to a court finding of dangerousness and to give the dangerous person the proceeds.
The NRA-supported bill is opposed by the Indiana State Teachers Association, the Indiana Association of School Principals, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Indiana School Boards Association, and the Indiana Urban School Association.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, testified this week in opposition to SB 229 where she was subjected to a lengthy stream of insulting, and often irrelevant, questions and comments. A gun lobbyist – the only person to testify in favor of the bill – was treated respectfully and not questioned.
“There have been more than 50 school shootings across the country in the 15 months since the tragedy in Newtown. Indiana mothers will not be silent any longer – our legislators must address the gun violence epidemic that affects our children and families,” said Watts. “We will continue to testify at hearings and raise our voices and use our votes – even in the face of demeaning and disrespectful treatment by elected officials.”