In the wake of the Texas mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers Tuesday, the two most powerful leaders at the Indiana Statehouse told CBS4 News that they have no new ideas on curbing schoolhouse violence in the state.
House Speaker Todd Huston said he had not had time to process the tragedy, despite a similar mass killing in Buffalo 11 days ago and the FedEx mass murder than claimed eight victims in Indianapolis in the spring of 2021, and he did not have second thoughts on legislation that takes effect July 1 to end Indiana’s gun carry permit requirement.
Governor Eric Holcomb said he also has no doubts about allowing the bill to scrap the gun carry permit requirement to become law.
Both top Indiana republicans said the issue of gun violence is complex with multiple factors to be considered, including mental health services.
The governor said the answer for schools, students and parents who fear their classrooms are in the crosshairs is for Indiana lawmakers to “do more of what we’re doing” and continue providing technical assistance and financial aid which has already totaled $110 million for safer education buildings.
“The schools, the most local governing body, cannot let their guard down and we won’t let them down when it comes to funding to help them do their job going into this legislative session as well,” said Holcomb. “I think we need to focus on making sure in this case schools maintain their integrity. You might call it hardening them when children are in the classroom. That’s what we need to focus on.”
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said that his staff is researching best practices for law enforcement agencies across the state to determine a gun owner’s legal status now that the officers soon won’t be able to routinely determine if there’s an active firearms permit in effect or under consideration.
“Policing in Indiana is at a crossroads and more people are leaving than are coming and there’s only so much that we’re going to be able to do,” said Carter. “With the applicants that we used to have who would apply to carry a handgun in Indiana, we’re not doing mental health checks anymore.
It was on this date four years ago that a teenage boy shot a teacher and a student at Noblesville West Middle School and was sentenced to the Indiana Department of Correction with instruction to receive mental health counseling.
Both Huston and Holcomb referred to improved mental health services as a component to any approach to reducing the level of gun violence.
“I had a direct conversation with the governor about that just an hour ago. He’s very concerned about this and called me,” said Carter. “This mental health issue is very very real and we had a sliver of it with applicants that we don’t have anymore.”
Neither leading republican would commit to a non-2nd Amendment response to curbing gun violence such as a ban on the type of body armor that mass shooters often wear to protect themselves from police gunfire.
“How about we try something? I’m angry about it because that’s why we find ourselves where we are. We cannot continue to say that,” said a clearly frustrated Carter. “How about we take some responsibility. How about we at least swing at that ball. And to say you can’t do something right now when everybody’s afraid.”
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said his hands are tied as the City is prohibited from enacting ordinances that would countermand state and federal law regarding firearms in Marion County.
Hogsett said he was unclear as to whether the City could consider non-2nd Amendment responses to ban gear related to gun ownership.