The House passed legislation Monday that will let Hoosiers take guns onto school property – as long as they stay locked in a vehicle and out of sight.
Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said Senate Bill 229 is meant to ensure that soccer moms and other law abiding teachers and parents don’t unknowingly break the law by driving onto school grounds with guns in their cars.
“Current Indiana law states that if you bring a firearm on school property and leave it in your car, you could be charged with a D felony,” Lucas said. He said that’s true even if a driver is simply dropping off a student or stopping to talk with a teacher.
He said that could leave a parent facing the same penalties as someone who commits involuntarily manslaughter or posses child pornography.
But opponents said the bill makes it too easy for someone who gets angry to return to their vehicle to grab a gun. Rep. Linda Lawson, a retired police officer and Democrat from Hammond, rattled off a list of shootings that have occurred at schools across the country.
“How many young people, how many teachers must we lose before we say enough is enough?” said Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary.
The bill also bans police departments from using public funds for gun buyback programs. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, said police could use private funds or grants to pursue the programs.
“We heard these programs do not work,” Eberhart said.
On Monday, the Indiana chapter of the national group Moms Demand Action called on the House to kill SB 229.
“This bill is extremely dangerous because it means that firearms will be allowed near our children no matter where our children are,” said Nicki McNally, the chapter leader of Moms Demand Action. “More guns in more places is not the answer.”
The bill passed 75-24 and now moves back to the Senate, which has already approved it. The Senate can now accept changes made by the House or send the bill to a conference committee for further consideration.
Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.