Teachers and students from across Indiana will march in Indianapolis on Saturday to demand action on preventing gun violence. The event is part of the national March for Our Lives protest, with similar actions in cities across the state and country this weekend.
Randy Harrison, vice president of the Indiana chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said the goal is to push lawmakers to take up new gun-safety measures.
"For far too long," he said, "children and educators - and the families of those children and educators - have been on the receiving end of the gun violence."
In July, Indiana will enact a law allowing people to carry handguns without a permit. It'll still be illegal for folks who previously were barred from carrying a handgun to do so come July 1 -- although gun-safety advocates have contended the permitting process is essential to catching those people early. At least 24 other states have adopted similar policies.
According to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, Indiana's gun death rate increased by 78% from 2011 to 2020, more than double the pace of the national average in the same time period. Harrison, a high-school government teacher from Anderson, said the protests aren't anti-Second Amendment.
"It's promoting ways to keep all of us safe," he said, "and yes, it could include mental-health policies and things like that, but I think it's got to be a conglomerate of policies that focus on this issue."
The last national March for Our Lives event was held in 2018, and this year's action comes just weeks after a shooting in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 students and two teachers dead. The Everytown report said guns are the leading cause of death among Hoosier children and teens, ending an average of 110 lives each year.