More than 200 red shirt-clad volunteers flooded statehouse hallways to support of gun safety legislation Tuesday.
Advocates included students and parents affected by the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School, and the mother of a 4-year-old who fatally shot himself after a babysitter left a loaded firearm unattended.
Moms Demand Action Indiana, the local chapter of a national gun safety organization, lobbied lawmakers to expand Indiana’s Red Flag laws, which give courts the power to remove guns from people who exhibit dangerous behavior. The group also supported a bill that would make it a crime to leave loaded firearms unsecured if children access them and are killed or injured.
Moms Demand Action leader Rachel Guglielmo says this is the most volunteers the group has had at their annual statehouse day. A majority of attendees to the statehouse were first-time Moms Demand Action volunteers.
Guglielmo says she thinks Hoosiers are responding to Indiana’s two school shootings last year.
“I think it's a reflection of the growing concern in our state about gun violence and the growing intention of the growing determination of ordinary people to do something about it,” Guglielmo says. “Our kids are scared in school and that's not the way it should be.”
The group criticized a bill to expand Indiana’s Stand Your Ground law, and a bill to allow people volunteering at a school with a house of worship or religious ceremony on school grounds could carry a handgun onto school premises.
Students Demand Action, a new branch of the organization formed after a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, also lobbed at the statehouse. A senior from Noblesville High School Emily Cole told one lawmaker to think of them when voting on legislation.
“You think about us and you think about what we look like,” Cole says. “Think about what we looked like hiding in classrooms as well, so I hope you think about that when you come up to vote.”
Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) approached the student advocates and says he admired their work to push a conversation about school safety.
“The public discussion, in my view has been impoverished,” DeLaney says. “Keep pushing us ... but let's push early and get it done.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb designated school safety a top priority for the 2019 legislative session. There are more than two dozen school safety related bills in the legislature this session, some filed in direct response to the Noblesville shooting.