By Dan Carpenter
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s high time the National Rifle Association held its annual convention in Indianapolis. Lord knows the Indiana General Assembly, with encouragement from the governor’s office and little resistance from cautious public officials in the Circle City,
Dan Carpenter is a columnist for TheStatehouseFile.com and the author of “Indiana Out Loud.”
has earned the honor.
Long ranked as one of the loosest states for gun traffic by federal authorities and firearms control advocates, Indiana has widened the lanes in recent years as its Republican majority has grown more reactionary and special interests such as the NRA have ratcheted up their influence.
Good to see it’s generated tourist dollars. Hard to see much sense in it otherwise.
You’d think there might be some soul-searching from a state that’s tagged by the feds as a major exporter of guns used in crimes elsewhere, owing to its exemption of “private” sales from background checks and its lack of caps on the number of weapons that can be purchased at one time.
You might hope that a gun-rich state would take mass shootings in schools and workplaces as a hint to try some approach other than expanding the “right” to bring guns in one’s car to schools and workplaces.
You might expect a tough-on-crime state to respond to news reports of felons’ wrongfully obtaining gun permits in some way other than closing off the record of those permits to the public.
You might wonder why any state government facing a crisis of urban violence, such as that in Indianapolis, not only would ease restrictions on where guns can be carried but actually would forbid local governments from making their own rules in that regard.
You would not be familiar with how the mind of Indiana governance works.
What’s a stain of shame to many of us, including such radical incendiaries as police chiefs and emergency room physicians, is a badge of honor to the majority of our legislators, along with Gov. Mike Pence and his predecessor, Mitch Daniels.
Gun control is anathema to both those men; Daniels stamped his bona fides by opening state parks to firearms and Pence reacted to the Sandy Hook massacre by saying, in effect, don’t get carried away.
This was shortly after his election victory over Democrat John Gregg, who made sure voters knew he was “Bible-quotin’ and gun-totin’.” It is tough out there for Moms Against Guns, I’m here to tell you.
The list of favors to the gun lobby and Second Amendment fanatics is long and always lengthening; but the topper has to be the law enacted late in Daniels’ administration permitting householders to use force against any police officer or other public agent they believed to be unlawfully entering their home. This daft and potentially deadly sop to the fantasy frontier spirit came in response to an Indiana Supreme Court ruling against a man who’d fought with invading police. If they’re wrong, the court said, you have to complain or sue later; you’ve no inherent right to get physical.
A tough call; the only call, when you think about it. But when it comes to guns, the thinking over there seems to have all the range and focus of a sawed-off shotgun. I mean, talk about Stand Your Ground. This threatens the lives, not of annoying teenagers, but of cops and mail carriers. Just how conservative is that?
Providentially, no upstanding, licensed, rage-crazed homeowner has tested the home-is-your-castle law so far. And to our relief, much of the other gun legislation is mostly symbolic as well. Nobody has been checking Dad’s trunk when he’s come to pick up Junior; and if a House bill now pending passes as expected, nobody will be allowed to. It’s simply one more endorsement of a gun culture and a gun lobby that have made our communities a mine field that no number of gun control laws ever could sweep clean even if three ghosts visited the Statehouse tonight.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, rightful Hoosiers. The way this legislature figures, you make us safer wherever you tote.
Oh, uh, but the Statehouse is off limits, of course.
Dan Carpenter is a freelance writer, a contributor to Indianapolis Business Journal and the author of “Indiana Out Loud.”