Indianapolis religious leaders call for tighter gun control laws

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The bells at Christ Church Cathedral on Monument Circle tolled 59 times at noon Tuesday as a group of interfaith religious leaders offered a prayer for the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.

Following the prayer service, several local religious leaders made a public call for government leaders to pass legislation that would tighten restrictions on purchasing the kinds of weapons used in the mass shooting.

“Yes, they say guns don’t kill, people kill,” said Rabbi Dennis Sasso, of the Congregation Beth El-Zedeck. “But it is people with guns, and certain types of guns especially that have the ability to kill in warfare magnitude.”

Sasso was specifically referring to weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47. He argues that the average citizen has no need to possess such weapons.

“We may not completely eliminate events like this, but we would certainly diminish their magnitude,” Rabbi Sasso said.

Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burros, of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, says she respects the rights granted by the 2nd Amendment. But she argues that the amendment was written long before weapons like AR-15s even existed.

“Our constitution, as wonderful as it is, is not a perfect document,” she said. “There were times when someone like me would not have been considered a full person by the constitution. And so I think that sometimes our times demand that we look at things in light of where we are in our society.”

But while some are calling for tighter gun control laws, others are thinking about becoming gun owners for the first time. Brownsburg resident Shane Headlee was down the street from the Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas when the shots were fired Sunday night. Headlee says he has never owned a gun, but is now considering it.

“It kind of made me think when I got back to the room, ‘Hey I might need to get a permit in case there’s some crazy people out there to where I could protect myself and others if something like this should ever happen that I’m right involved in the middle of it,’” Headlee said.

Douglas Hunter, who owns Fort Liberty Firearms in Avon, says he’s seen an uptick in calls from people interested in buying a gun since the Las Vegas mass shooting. He says many of his customers this week have specifically asked about the AR-15 amidst more discussion of legislation to restrict the weapons.

“We will find that out that ‘We’ve been looking for a while but I feel as though this is the time that I need to make a purchase because I may not have that ability later on down the road,’” Hunter said.

“And that’s where we do a lot of the interviewing process,” Hunter continued. “Is this something that’s an immediate need? Is this something you’ve been looking for for a while? Or is it because it’s fear-based and you’re resulting in fear-based policy resulting from it.”

Hunter says he is willing to listen to all sides of the gun control debate, as he has following numerous mass shootings in America.

“Full auto, class 3 weapons are already heavily regulated,” he said. “To say that one firearm is more deadly than another firearm, a .22 kills more people worldwide than any other firearm. It’s one of the smallest calibers out there.”

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