Indiana lawmakers have a long list of people from whom they don’t want to hear about guns and gun violence.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told me once that prosecutors had tried to talk with the Indiana General Assembly about the consequences of Indiana’s lax gun laws, some of the loosest in the nation.
“They (state legislators) have made it clear that they’re not interested in hearing what we have to say,” Curry said.
And why should legislators listen to the state’s prosecutors? The prosecutors are just the folks who have to try the cases and enforce the state’s laws. What could they possibly have to contribute to a discussion about guns and public safety?
Police officers and police chiefs also have told me they have attempted to talk with our lawmakers about firearms and violent crime.
“The legislators pretty much patted us on the head and told us not to worry our pretty little heads about it,” one police officer said to me with a snort.
And why should legislators listen to the state’s police officers? The cops – such as the one who just died in the domestic terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs – are just the people getting shot at while they try to protect us. What could they possibly have to contribute to a discussion about guns and public safety?
Victims of gun violence also struggle to find a sympathetic ear when they visit the Statehouse.
Shannon Watts, a Hoosier who launched the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, visited the Indiana General Assembly last year, only to be insulted and bullied by Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour – the lawmaker who also happens to be the National Rifle Association’s chief cheerleader in Indiana.
And why should legislators listen to the state’s moms, dads, friends and family members of people who have been affected by gun violence? They are just the ones who worry and fret, grieve and suffer. What could they possibly have to contribute to a discussion about guns and public safety?
The list of people from whom our legislators do not want to hear about guns is likely to grow even longer.
Indianapolis television WISH and Ball State University added some questions about guns to their Hoosier Survey.
That poll revealed that Hoosiers are worried – really, really worried – about guns and gun violence.
More than four out of five of the state’s citizens – 83 percent in each case – want to see universal background checks on potential gun purchasers and would like to prevent people with mental illnesses from having access to firearms. More than half would like to see a federal database of firearm ownership and a ban on assault rifles.
Not that this is likely to make much of a difference.
Lucas and other legislators have made it clear that the citizens of Indiana won’t have much of a voice in shaping their state’s gun laws.
After the mass shooting in Oregon, Lucas told a reporter for an Indianapolis radio station that no amount of public concern about guns and gun violence was likely to sway the state’s lawmakers because the NRA owns our legislature. Lucas boasted that 73 percent of the members of the Indiana House of Representatives have “A” ratings from the NRA – which, by the way, receives the overwhelming majority of its funding not from its members, but from firearms manufacturers. Those gun companies are less concerned with questions of constitutional principle and public safety than they are with preserving the cash flow that accompanies the unfettered sale of deadly weapons.
And why should legislators listen to the state’s citizens about guns and gun violence? The state’s citizens are just the ones who pay the taxes, cast the votes and establish the sovereignty that gives government its authority.
What could the people who put our lawmakers in office possibly have to contribute to a discussion about guns and public safety?
Come to think of it – these prosecutors, police officers, moms, dads and ordinary citizens have a lot of nerve.
It’s almost as if they think their state government actually belongs to them.