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Anti-violence activists call on lawmakers to revive bill that would promote storage safety of firearms

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Posted at 7:04 PM, Feb 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 19:04:54-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Lock it down; that was the message of anti-violence activists from northwest Indiana and Chicago.

Activists gathered at the statehouse to share their concern that lawmakers didn’t hear a bill that would promote safe storage of firearms in the homes of those who have kids.

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Andrew Holmes is an anti-violence activist from Chicago. His daughter, Tamara Sword, was murdered in Indianapolis in 2015. Since then, he has been advocating for people to put the guns down.

Now, he has started a new initiative called Lock it Down. He, along with his team, go to schools and give free gun locks to kids. They also discuss the importance of safe gun storage.

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"We are losing our children, not to accidental shootings, but due to negligence that there are no locks on these weapons,” Holmes said.

He was joined by crisis response volunteers and Sylvia Galvan, who also lost her son to gun violence. Following the murder of her son, she founded a nonprofit called Circle of Love.

Galvan helps the families of homicide victims by offering free counseling, local resource recommendations and wellness checks, among other things.
 

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"He was killed on January 25, 2016,” Galvan said. "He was just full of life, he was my baby."

They came to the statehouse to share how they are disappointed that lawmakers didn't give House Bill 1325 a committee hearing.

The bill would have held parents responsible if their children obtained a gun and used it if it wasn't secured properly.

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"That bullet has a body on the end of it and someone has to be held responsible because of the choices they made,” Holmes said.

Guy Relford is a second amendment attorney. He says he supports safe storage of guns but not creating a penalty if something bad happens.

Relford feels current laws already take care of parents who may be putting their kids in a neglectful or dangerous situation.

"Safe and responsible storage of firearms is absolutely essential,” Relford said. "But using a stick instead of a carrot is not the way to go. Creating a new class of crime is not the way to go. I am more in favor of something that's preventative."

To make their point clear, the group had photos of kids from across the country that either died or were severely injured because of a gun not being locked up. They hope it will cause lawmakers to see that safe storage legislation is needed.

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"We are not against anyone having guns, we just want to practice gun safety,” Galvan said. “We want them to help us get what we need to have everyone be safe."

The deadline has passed for new bills to be heard in committees, but these advocates are hopeful that lawmakers will hear an amendment on another bill to get safe storage passed in the state of Indiana.

Other safe storage bills that had bipartisan support also died this legislative session.

House Bill 1144 and House Bill 1318 would have allowed people to collect a tax credit for safely storing their guns.

Bills related to that topic died but are likely to come up in next year's legislative session.