State Rep. Jim Lucas defends showing handgun to students, says episode ‘blown out of proportion’

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Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, speaks on the House floor on Feb. 16, 2023. (Courtesy Indiana House Republicans)

Young gun safety advocates clashed with an avowed gun-rights lawmaker on Tuesday in a 10-minute exchange that featured a brief showing of a holstered handgun.

The students and a chaperone told the The Statehouse File they felt threatened after Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, opened his coat and revealed his handgun.

Lucas, however, denied any intent to intimidate the students  in comments to the Capital Chronicle on Wednesday.

He observed that about 20% of Hoosiers are licensed to carry, according to Indiana State Police, although a 2022 law removed the requirement for handguns.

“People that are carrying a gun are among us every day, everywhere, and I simply wanted to show them that I was one of those people,” he said. “There was no intimidation whatsoever. … I did not put my hand on my firearm. I did not make any threats.”

Lawmakers and their staff are allowed to carry in the Statehouse though citizens are not.

The conversation

The students, from Burris Laboratory School in Muncie, were visiting the Statehouse for an annual gun safety rally. They are members of Students Demand Action, one of the organizations hosting the event.

In a video a student recorded—which begins part-way through the interaction—Lucas said that, under high court decisions, police do not have a duty to protect a person from harm. That includes during school shootings.

“That means you’re on your own … when it comes to protecting [yourself],” he said.

Rep. Jim Lucas briefly shows that he’s carrying a firearm during a conversation with student advocates for gun safety on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. (Courtesy The Statehouse File/Screenshot of video provided by Makynna Fivecoats)

Students noted that they can’t legally carry firearms because they are minors.

They went on to describe the fear of school shootings, including of false shooting threats.

“We shouldn’t have to live in fear,” argued parent chaperone Alison Case.

Lucas protested that more laws wouldn’t stop “people who aren’t being stopped by the hundreds of existing laws right now.”

About two minutes later into the conversation, he opened his jacket to reveal a handgun strapped to his torso, adding, “I’m carrying right now!”

“Nothing about that makes me feel safe, though,” one student responded.

The back-and-forth continued for about four minutes until Lucas grew visibly frustrated—calling the conversation “off the rails”—and walked away, wishing the group a good day.

The aftermath

One of the students, Makynna Fivecoats, told The Statehouse File that the handgun flash “felt like a threat.”

Indiana Democrats on Wednesday denounced Lucas’ actions.

“Indiana Republicans say laws can’t stop gun violence. They have no plan to stop gun violence because they do not believe it is possible,” Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmul said. “We all deserve an Indiana where students—and everyone in our communities—feel safe and gun-owning Hoosiers can do so safely and responsibly.”

On Facebook Wednesday, Lucas wrote that he feared for and pitied “those that are being indoctrinated to fear that which is their best means of self defense.”

Lucas told the Capital Chronicle that he was in the elevator alone when the group entered and that he started the conversation—by asking what brought them to the Statehouse—out of politeness.

“This is being intentionally blown out of proportion, as these issues generally are,” he said. “But the video should speak for itself.”

Lucas said that he hadn’t known he was being recorded, but added, “I stand by everything I said.”

It’s at least the second time Lucas has raised eyebrows by revealing he carries. In 2019, he told a room of constituents that he was carrying a gun as he responded to a sixth-grader’s question about gun safety, according to The Republic of Columbus, Indiana.

The student asked, “Do you believe the more guns that are being carried, including in this room, would make my classmates and I safer?”

Lucas immediately said “absolutely” and then told the crowd “I’m carrying right now. Does that scare anybody?”

Lucas pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors over the summer after he drove under the influence and crashed his vehicle—but successfully resisted calls to resign. Lucas has previously sparked controversy for statements on social media.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted The Republic newspaper of Columbus as saying Lucas showed his firearm to constituents during a meeting in 2019 in Columbus. In truth, Lucas only told them he was carrying a gun, according to The Republic. You can find other corrections and clarifications to IBJ stories here.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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33 thoughts on “State Rep. Jim Lucas defends showing handgun to students, says episode ‘blown out of proportion’

  1. Don’t the snowflakes see policemen and women all the time with a gun???? He was illustrating not threatening!!
    But if you’re leftist, you blame the gun not the Democrat who kills people…..

    1. There is a reasonable expectation that a police officer is carrying a fire arm. Not a citizen in a government building.

    2. The real snowflakes are all of you that are so scared and sensitive you need to carry a killing machine everywhere you go.

    3. I am sorry, but you cannot be this obtuse right?

      He disliked someone was in a place exercising their first amendment and flashed a gun at them?

      I am assuming this post was sarcasm, because it can’t be serious

  2. While I completely understand and support the Second Amendment, the gesture was simply unnecessary, regardless of intent. A well intentioned verbal discussion would have been the professional and adult path.

  3. I am not sure the student activists were there to have a well-intentioned verbal discussion. Seems like they wanted to lecture others about their feelings, devoid of logic or common sense. And, someone should mark the file of Makynna Fivecoats, because she is irrational. That clip of the video cannot be reasonably perceived as a threat. [What Republicans should do is legislate a 1-hour statewide gun-safety course for all public school students.]

    1. It’s not a threat, but it’s stupid.

      The parents sent their kids to the Statehouse to learn something about government. They did not sign up for a DUI-legislator to demonstrate his “strength” by flashing a gun.

      It’s a very bad example to set for young Hoosiers.

    2. No Rick; the parents sent their kids there as proxy to lecture legislators on the parents’ personal views, because you know, kids are the ultimate source of logic and reason…while ingesting Tide pods and doing other stupid things they see on TikTok.

    3. SO, Patrick, with the miserable voter turnout among young voters you really want to demonize young voters who are showing an interest? You seriously want to characterize their intentions as, oh, I don’t know…something less than honorable?

      The point is: they’re at the Statehouse. You weren’t. They were peacefully asking questions of a legislator….and he shows them his side piece?

      Maybe their approach needs some mentoring. They’re 18. They’re taking an interest in their government–whatever their views or their parents’ views.

    4. Unless the Democrats are having these children vote unlawfully, these are not young voters. They are described as minors who cannot legally carry. And, I don’t see anything about them “peacefully” asking questions. What the article says is: “The back-and-forth continued for about four minutes until Lucas grew visibly frustrated—calling the conversation “off the rails”—and walked away, wishing the group a good day.” When conversations are “off the rails,” that indicates that they are not following proper protocol, which includes listening and applying logic and common sense. I think it would have been an excellent opportunity for an adult chaperone to say something like, “Billy, that is not productive. When you resort to using your emotions or name-calling as a crutch, that is a sign that the other side’s logic and reasoning are right. Now, listen to this man. He just made the point that many people carry guns. There are 400,000,000 million guns in America that did not shoot anyone today. So, Billy, how do you respond calmly, without raising your voice, using your reasoning and logic?” [I hope the adult chaperones did something like that, but the article provides: ““We shouldn’t have to live in fear,” argued parent chaperone Alison Case.” With due respect, the adult chaperone should be moderating, not arguing, if they kids are there to learn.]

    5. Seriously?! “Off the rails” was Lucas’s description of the conversation; not the reporter’s. My guess is that indicates Lucas was unable to convince them that he’s right. He and his colleagues are convinced that they know better on a myriad of issues.

    6. I listened to the audio. Nothing off the rails. That’s Jim Lucas’s description. And his judgment is questionable.

      The age of the students can be reasonably debated. But soon, they will all be voters. It’s a legislator’s job to interact with constituents and citizens. In a reasonable fashion.

      Pulling back his sportcoat, to demonstrate a gun, is juvenile behavior. At best.

    7. The legislator should have been playing the role of adult in this interaction. When it didn’t go his way he flashes a gun and stomps off, like a child.

  4. What a laughingstock that some Republican nut job with a drinking problem who gets arrested for drunk driving is allowed to carry weapons and be around children. This will no doubt be fodder for late night comedians.

  5. “…they felt threatened.” OH the snowflakery! Did they think he was going to drop and start shooting them? I really think some of these people should just stay in their basements with coloring books and teddy bears and have mom send down meatloaf.

    1. Try this:

      Some folks are indeed traumatized by weapons, especially if they’re being displayed by folks whom we’re not conditioned to see carrying weapons.

      We’re used to police officers displaying weapons.

      And maybe some of the folks who are affected by these weapon displays, are victims of violence or know someone who is.

      But I’m sure Lucas’s fellow legislators are thrilled with the prospect of Jim Lucas defending them in case someone opens fire.

      Boys with toys.

    2. He has a record of being drunk in public during the day, so as an educated adult I would say 50/50.

      As they say in gun classes, if you show it you better be ready to fire it.

  6. Couldn’t provide the statistic without opening his jacket to show off his iron peni$? Why does it seem this guy makes an outsized effort to avoid all actions or behaviors that might be universally admired? There is just some kind of a$$hat/alpha/cosplay tough guy/blowhard/moron/antisocial personality disorder going on here.

  7. I’m a life-long Republican and Conservative and general supporter of 2A rights – although there is no place in civil society for assault weapons and they should be banned – but Lucas is an ass and should be removed from the Legislature. He’s a convicted DUI and arguable meth-head and should have his gun-ownership rights revoked before he kills someone with his irrational and drug-induced rage episodes. He’s an embarrassment to Republicans and to civil society in general.

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