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Indiana Senate passes resolution to study school safety

INDIANAPOLIS — A resolution to review school safety issues passed unanimously Tuesday through the Indiana Senate.

The resolution would assign a study committee to look at school safety issues to better protect children in Indiana schools. The committee would then offer recommendations to the legislature before the next session.

The motion comes after national violent crime rates increased by 3.4 percent in 2016, national homicide rates increased more than 20 percent since 2014, and violence in schools have increased, according to the resolution.

Author Sen. James Tomes, R-Wadesville, said the resolution, which comes just nearly three weeks after a school shooting in Florida left 17 dead, can allow Indiana to do what the rest of the country is not doing — talk about legitimate solutions to problems with school safety. 

“We can’t have our society living like this,” Tomes said.

Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, spoke in support of the resolution. He said the issue of school safety is timely and it is important to find ways to protect Indiana children.

He said Indiana is ahead of the curve compared to many other states when it comes to gun laws and school safety laws. 

Part of protecting children in schools is gun safety, Long said, but there's also a multifaceted approach, which the study committee will help determine.

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, expressed worries about the resolution not directly exploring gun safety measures. He urged support for a resolution he authored that would create a study committee to look into gun violence and firearm deaths in Indiana. The resolution is currently being heard in the judiciary committee. 

Now is not the time to be taking measures to ease gun laws in Indiana, Lanane said.

“It is a time to reflect and review those laws,” Lanane said.

Two bills that would have changed Indiana’s handgun license regulations died in the legislature last week.

Lanane testified in a Feb. 21 Senate committee hearing against one of the bills. He said he worried the bill, which would have extended the four-year handgun license to a five-year license and removed the lifetime carry permit fee, loosened gun resolutions in Indiana. The appropriations committee decided not to hear the bill last week. 

“I don’t want to do anything at this point in time, given the state of our nation, to make our laws any easier to get a gun,” Lanane said.

A similar bill died in the House last week after the House decided not to hear 19 amendments that were added.

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