INDIANAPOLIS — During a recent reset of his administration’s anti-gun violence strategy, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced that ordinances would be introduced before the City County Council June 5th to curb the acquisition and use of firearms in Marion County.
Such ordinances could be enforced only if enabling legislation were passed at the republican controlled General Assembly which seems unlikely.
”I don’t see that this is something that we’re gonna change in the Statehouse,” said State Senator Jack Sandlin, a republican from Perry Township.
”I think that the mayor of Indianapolis is definitely trying to make a statement that these are measures that he thinks are important to protect public safety but I think the chances that the General Assembly will take this up and act on it are between none and none,” said IU Law Professor Jody Madeira.
Hogsett is proposing ordinances to raise the legal age to purchase guns in Marion County from 18 to 21, ban semi-automatic rifles and roll back permitless carry.
“What we’re seeing here in Marion County is something we don’t see in the rest of the state and the City County Council has the right to address it,” said State Senator Greg Taylor, a democrat and gun owner from the westside of Indianapolis. “We had our colleagues from the other side of the aisle a couple years ago submit their crime reduction bills and it doesn’t seem to be working so far, so I think its only prudent that our local City County Council members do something to kind of put us in a position here at the Indiana General Assembly where we can help curb some of the gun violence in the state of Indiana.”
While the overall number of murders and homicides are down in Indianapolis compared to a year ago, the total number of gun homicides is up.
A year ago on this date, IMPD recorded 74 firearms homicides in the city.
Today that number stands at 84.
Non-fatal shootings have fallen from a year ago as of May 26th.
In 2022, on that date, IMPD recorded 254 non-fatal shooting victims.
On that same date this year, that number stood at 237.
Along with tougher ordinances, Hogsett also proposed boosting community anti-violence spending by $15 million and launching the “Summer In The City” campaign which will hold weeklong classes on barbering, nutrition and cooking, E-gaming and financial literacy to address issues surrounding gun violence and poverty.
”One of the things I read in the mayor’s proposal is over the summer they’re gonna have opportunities and they’re gonna teach young people about giving haircuts and cooking foods and other things,” said Sandlin. “I didn’t see anything in there about providing a gun safety class.”
Taylor said firearms education and safe handling should be part of an overall legislative approach to pre-emptively keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
“We also need to strengthen the background checks and make sure so a person before they go buy a firearm has to go through some kind of background check to make sure that they’re mentally capable of handling,” he said. ”If we have those things in place, its not too far of a step to have gun safety and background checks necessary to make sure people who have them should have them.”
Madeira said the legislature has tied the hands of local governments wanting to enact ordinances to stem gun violence.
”Only the General Assembly can regulate firearms. Local governments can’t regulate firearms, can’t regulate ammunition, can’t regulate firearms accessories, their ownership, possession or transportation. They basically can’t say how guns are registered, transferred, stored, they can’t tax them, they can’t regulate how they’re sold.
”What it boils down to is you can pass an ordinance as a local government but you really can’t enforce it.”
Tuesday night a teenager was shot on a basketball court at a park just north of downtown, the fourth such city park shooting in the last month.
Until several years ago, Indianapolis had a ban on guns in its parks when Sandlin served on the City County Council.
”I think I introduced that ordinance to repeal that ordinance once they changed the state law and we didn’t see a big surge in gun violence in city parks at that time,” he said.
The City has also unveiled its “I Choose Peace” campaign which will seek to encourage business and groups to invest in anti-violence programs and declare events at “Gun Free Zones” on public property this summer.