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EDITORIAL: Indiana lawmakers advance hasty gun legislation



Exactly one week after the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Florida high school, Indiana lawmakers have decided to advance a bill that would loosen gun restrictions. 

House Bill 1424 is going to waive lifetime handgun carry fees, increase the four-year handgun carry permit to five years and reduce the amount of required background checks for the duration of the five year permit.

At a time of nationwide panic, sorrow and overwhelming agreement on the issue, the lawmakers of this nation simply must not be making it easier for people to buy guns. 

When consumers decide to buy a five-year permit for $40, they are exempt from any future background checks for additional handgun purchases during that five-year period.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said it well in an interview with the Indianapolis Star: "The bottom line is once you get past this more stringent background check initially, you have a five-year period to go stock up on guns without doing a background check.”

There is an underlying question of the bill's end goal. This could not just put more guns in the hands of citizens, but also gives the state government less money from handgun permit sales. So this seems like a clear lose-lose situation that is coming especially at the wrong time.

Indiana has been known for its particularly lenient gun-carrying laws. As of right now essentially the only people who are barred from owning guns are violent felons and those who are convicted of domestic battery. 

Now Indiana is leaving its mark on history, but sadly by moving in the opposite direction of justice by making it easier for people to buy guns.

Any piece of legislation that remotely makes it easier than it is now to purchase guns is outright unjust.

Regardless of the back-and-forth arguments of whether or not handgun control laws actually will help reduce these instances of mass murder, lawmakers everywhere need to start representing their constituents and giving them what they want. 

A 2015 study conducted by WISH-TV and Ball State University showed only 16 percent of Hoosiers oppose background checks for gun sales and a slight majority of Hoosiers — 51.3 percent — support a ban on assault weapons. 

A large argument for owning guns and resisting gun control laws seems to be that it makes people feel safer to have guns. But scientific research often suggests gun ownership in fact reduces how safe we are. 

According to research published March 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the gun injury rate reported by emergency departments and first responders nationwide actually fell by nearly 20 percent during NRA conventions. 

When gun owners attend these conventions, their lower firearm use leads to fewer injuries — even among those supposedly highly proficient in firearm use and safety. Despite the rigorous safety education the National Rifle Association attempts to provide, as gun owners leave the conference and return to their communities, the rates of accidental firearm injury and death go back up. 

Another barrier to gun control also involves how often citizens reach out to their lawmakers. Pew Research Center reported that, “Gun owners are more likely than non-gun owners to have ever contacted a public official to express their opinion on gun policy.”

If Americans want stricter gun control, it is time for us to stand up and contact our representatives to make sure that they are accurately representing us. 

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