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Senators propose guns on campus, expanded access

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While some national lawmakers eye new limits on access to guns in the wake of last month's school shooting in Connecticut, two Republican state senators are trying to expand who can carry guns and where in Indiana.

Sen. Jim Banks of Columbia City has proposed allowing students to carry firearms on Indiana's public university campuses. Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn wants a bill that would exempt guns made exclusively in Indiana from federal rules and regulations.

The measures face little chance of success in the General Assembly this year. But Banks said Tuesday that lawmakers should still have an open, wide-ranging discussion about guns that highlights both arguments for and against increased access.

Banks said Indiana members of the national group Students for Concealed Carry asked him to propose the bill concerning carrying firearms on campuses. He said the group is pushing for increased gun access at colleges and has a large membership of female students that's focused on protecting women on campus.

"That's what's compelling about this issue, is how many female students there are around the state, who have very specific and real reasons to be afraid for their own safety on their campus," he said. "The number of sexual assault cases on campuses is alarming."

Kruse is proposing that anyone who makes guns in Indiana from parts made in the state and then sells them in the state be exempted from all federal gun regulations.

"Part of it is exercising our 10th Amendment rights, that Indiana can have our own laws and have those laws pertain to our state and if it's not specified otherwise, than I think we ought to be able to control our own things in our state and not have the federal government continue to just monopolize everything that we do in our lives," Kruse said.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, filed the measures proposed by Banks and Kruse in the Senate rules committee, a move that typically signifies a bill's dead for the session. But he said while Banks' proposal regarding firearms on campuses "has some problems," legislators are "really inclined to talk about it to see if there's more we can do with the bill."

Members of Indiana's Black Legislative Caucus said they would support any national effort to reduce gun violence and are ready to support new federal limits.

"One of the things that is happening around the country is that those persons that are interested in gun control are beginning to assemble," Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said Tuesday. "You've got your police chiefs, you've got your sheriffs, and you've got your mayors. So what we want to do as a caucus is be sort of a place where people can go in order to get our support."

The response in Indiana to the Dec. 14 elementary school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead in Newtown, Conn., has been somewhat muted. Incoming Gov. Mike Pence has said he plans a statewide review of school safety plans, but has declined to say whether he would make any changes to the state's gun laws — either to increase or decrease access.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon, have proposed spending $10 million to hire more law enforcement to protect Indiana schools and students, but Zoeller pointed out his office began investigating the need to expand the state's corps of "school resource officers" well before the Connecticut shooting.

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  • Gils
    I'm for the insurance angle being part of the program; however, one party CAN'T be a party of to litigation. The gun manufacturers' are exempt from liability by federal law. I don't think they can be sued if a defective gun accidentally kills someone. I don't think I could even sue them if my gun not working keeps me from killing someone.
  • Gun Owner Insurance
    Tyson, Let actuaries and gun owners sort out the insurance pools and costs, not the government. Private insurance works in other cases: cars, airplanes, boats, houses, health and many others. I have no idea what the cost would be, probably not as much as you fear; but there is no reason to socialize the cost to all. The Constitution does not guarantee you get a gun (or a car, house, airplane, boat or good health) if you cannot afford it.
  • Bad Risk Management
    Okay, so we're going to let college kids carry lethal weapons on campus, but by golly, they better not get caught drinking! You can't pick up a paper without reading about the Centers for Disease Control, MADD and other neo-prohibitionists decrying campus binge drinking. The university police departments brag about how many alcohol-related arrests they make. Will someone explain to me how adding guns to that formula is a good idea? Universities should have the freedom to prohibit guns the same way they prohibit alcohol -- through discipline and expulsion, free from the whms of the general Assembley, which knows nothing about risk management in the college environment.
  • A Better Solution doesn't sound any better
    Gil Viets, I would assume this liability insurance would carry a fairly high premium since you are proposing $5MM of coverage. Correct me if I am wrong, but this would lead to the wealthy only being able to protect themselves and seriously restrict gun ownership of the everyday citizen. While I definitely dont think more guns is the solution, everyone has the right to bear arms in this country, not only the wealthy who are able to afford it. Terry I believe your comments to be spot on. Arming our students seems to be doing nothing but promoting the violence not solving it.
    • Is this a good solution?
      Wow! I am currently enjoying a personal dillemma over this one. While I'm am 100% for the 2nd amendment and, though not a gun owner, support everyone's right to bear arms I'm not really for this change. I do not think that adding guns to college campuses in the hands of young adults who are still learning about the wonderful world of good and bad decisions and their consequences is the answer we're looking for. Personally I think that this will increase senseless gun violence (not planned but spur of the moment violence) and, in so doing, will hurt the cause of those of us who fully support the populations right to arm themselves, in case they need to fight off or curtail the antics of an oppressive governement AGAIN some day. Hmmm??? This one is a tough one.
    • A better solution!
      An addition to the bills is needed to give merit beyond the 2nd Amendment emotion of gun owners. Let the market provide the solution. The state should require that each gun, residing in Indiana or transitioning, carry a liability insurance policy issued by a solvent insurer. Guns not covered by such policies should be confiscated and destroyed whenever found, no exceptions, no remedies. The liability coverage minimum limits should be high, say $5,000,000 per harmed victim, because lifetime damage can be great, but some reasonable deductible, say $5,000, should be permitted at the gun owner’s option. No sale or transfer of a gun should be permitted without the buyer and seller both assuring required coverage. This proposal privatizes the solution, provides statistical recordkeeping by actuaries and puts the cost of guns with those who want guns.
      • Sounds Like Gun Manufacturers Lobbyist
        With all due respect, the answer to gun violence should not be putting more guns into the system. Why would a State Senator want a bill created that exempts gun manufacturers within the state from, a yet to be determined, federal law regarding gun violence? Since I do not know Senators Banks and Kruse personally I have two questions for them: "Have you served in combat?" "Have you ever fired an automatic weapon at civilians in combat?" The weapons used in Aurora and Newtown were semi-automatic with ammunition magazines which provided firepower upwards of 100 rounds per minute. Are you seriously considering a decision that could promote more tactical planning for future shooters? If a person gains access to semi-automatic or even automatic weapons with 60 to 100 round magazines, how will your bill prevent increased loss of life if the shooter elects to also purchase body armor? Your proposals seem like escalation, not control, of an out of date mind set. Try this thought Senators, 85% of all children shot worldwide each year, are shot in the United States. More guns do not appear to be the answer, at least to this combat veteran.

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