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Bloomington student group prepares to lobby for gun control at Indiana Statehouse



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Bloomington High School South students promote gun safety Jan. 27 in Monroe County Library. The students met to discuss gun safety and their plan to urge legislators to create gun laws for lobby day.  Christine Stephenson Buy Photos

When senior Nidhi Krishnan walks into Bloomington High School South, she said she feels safe. But then again, she said, that is probably what the students in Parkland, Florida, felt before February's school shooting.

“We’re not immune from gun violence,” she said. “Student safety should always be first priority.”

Krishnan is the founder of her local chapter of Students Demand Action, a nationwide organization where students come together to fight for stricter gun control, especially in schools. This chapter, made up of middle and high school students, was founded last summer, she said, just a few months after the Parkland shooting.

A group from the chapter is traveling Feb. 5 to the Indiana Statehouse to participate in their first annual Lobby Day. This is a day when advocacy organizations, including their parent organization Moms Demand Action, meet with legislators to promote what they consider common-sense gun regulations.

However, Feb. 5 is a Tuesday, so not all students can go. Still, Krishnan and six other students, ranging from middle school to college, gathered to educate themselves on how to lobby for gun safety Sunday at the Monroe County Public Library. 

“We’re not a partisan organization, but Democrats tend to side more with gun reform,” Krishnan said. “But we welcome anyone who is alarmed by the gun violence epidemic.”

Although Moms Demand Action goes every year, this will be the first time the two organizations will travel and lobby together. 

Those who are going are hoping to speak with Reps. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville; Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomington; and Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, three local legislators.

Rachel Guglielmo, Indiana chapter leader of Moms Demand Action, said she is excited for students to join her group this year because they can be especially persuasive.

“As an adult, it’s impactful to hear young people calling you out,” she said.

She encouraged the students to share any personal stories they have about gun violence with the legislators, as well as just generally tell them how safe they feel in school.

“I think bringing students might sway legislators because then they can see who they’re actually affecting,” Krishnan said.

One of the bills students want to talk to representatives about passing is a House bill called “Firearm Storage Requirements.”

If passed, the bill would prohibit gun owners from keeping their guns in places where children could reasonably reach them. 

This would make it more difficult for children to accidentally shoot themselves or others in the home and for students to bring their parents’ guns to school, IU freshman Evann Englert said.

“If you don’t lock up your gun, your kid could have 24/7 access to it,” he said. “But in reality, how often do you actually need to use it in your house?”

This bill hits close to home for Indiana students, he said, because the shooter at Noblesville West Middle School used his parents’ guns May 25 to open fire in a middle school classroom.

Students from Noblesville will also be traveling Feb. 5 to the Statehouse, Krishnan said, and Bloomington students are hoping to meet with them.

Ultimately, the students want to persuade their representatives to prioritize school safety regardless of their political affiliation, Krishnan said.

“I support the Second Amendment,” she said. “But the Second Amendment, just like any other amendment, isn’t absolute.”

In addition to Bloomington Students Demand Action, Englert and a few other IU students are working on building up members for an IU Students Demand Action group. The group was recognized by the national organization in January but are not yet officially recognized by the university.

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