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Indy leaders split on Mayor’s proposed gun control ordinance that directly goes against current state law

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Posted at 6:05 PM, Jun 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-14 19:34:00-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis City Council will debate whether to approve gun control ordinances in the city during Wednesday night's public safety committee meeting.

A plan introduced last month by Mayor Joe Hogsett takes three approaches to reduce gun violence:

  • Places ban on assault rifles
  • Removes the permit-less carry law
  • Raises the minimum age to own a gun from 18 to 21

"These common sense measures will be on the books. They will not have the force of law until, and unless, the General Assembly takes the long overdue step to withdraw its local preemption on Indianapolis residents," Hogsett said.

However, the plan is all conditional. Even if it passes the full council, local officials wouldn't be able to enforce any part of Proposal 156 unless state lawmakers change Indiana's gun laws.

The debate on the ordinances is being heard from both sides of the political spectrum, and law enforcement is weighing in too.

"What causes us the biggest concern on this local ordinance proposal is that the mayor states outright that it's not lawful, legal or enforceable," F.O.P President Rick Snyder said.

Snyder says there is no way for officers to hold up the law when ordinances like this pass since it would go directly against Indiana law.

"It turns out that law enforcement officers take the constitution and the law seriously. That's what we do. We enforce those. We might not always agree with laws that have passed, but we are still sworn to uphold those laws," Snyder said.

He says the plan creates bad public policy.

"It puts our officers right in the middle because it would require some sort of enforcement on our behalf. What we're saying is we're unwilling to do that knowing that it is unlawful and unenforceable," Snyder said.

Some city-county councilors say this is the latest example of the Statehouse limiting their ability to crack down on gun violence in the city.

"We, at times, think the Statehouse treats our city unfairly, particularly when it comes to gun violence and public safety," City County Councilor Dan Boots said.

He says he wants the proposal to pass, and believes the city should have a say on gun laws.

"We need to get the rest of the state to realize that if we don't take care of some of our urban areas, it will be a slow, cancerous death. Then, we're going to have a very sketchy future," Boots said.

He says the city needs to get a more favorable treatment from the Statehouse to implement "reasonable" gun safety measures.

Boots says he thinks they should pass the ordinance so that if Indiana law changes next legislative session, these ordinances can actually be enforced.

"The restrictions and handcuffs we have is from the State. Until Indiana clears a way to reasonable gun regulations, urban areas, such as Indianapolis, will suffer," Boots said.

Political expert Laura Wilson says it can be tricky to pass ordinances that go against state law.

"I think it's a balance that you see in State versus City in terms of government, responsibility and authority. Also, the need, in terms of why this moment, why right now," Wilson said.

Snyder did say he doesn't entirely disagree with the Mayor's plan, however he questions the timing of it.

"It's a little too late. We have to have laws that are enforceable. I just go back to it's bad public policy to potentially create a local ordinance that violate state law for appearance sake. That does nothing to help victims in our city," Snyder said

Republican Candidate for Mayor, Jefferson Shreve, agreed.

In a previous statement Shreve said:

The “plan” Joe Hogsett released today is another one of his toothless initiatives. An election year stunt and a slap in the faces of veteran police officers.

After nearly eight years, the results are in, and Mayor Hogsett has failed. It’s time for new leadership that will work in a bipartisan manner to solve our city's public safety crisis.
Jefferson Shreve

"While it's an election year, and that is probably some of the motivation, you also really do have struggles with gun violence, specifically within the city of Indianapolis," Wilson said.

The F.O.P Lodge 86 released a statement in opposition of the plan stating:

Several are long overdue such as swift accountability for violent offenders criminally using guns

plus efforts to retain and recruit officers to uphold existing laws. We applaud these legal and reasonable items.

However, the Mayor also announced other steps he plans to take regarding new restrictions that are outside the laws of the State of Indiana.

Unfortunately, it gives the appearance of a last-minute political ploy as we enter the summer months leading up to the municipal elections.

It also follows the Mayor's stunning silence over the past 4 years while our law enforcement professionals consistently pointed to solutions and called upon the Mayor for backup.

Instead, it became clear politicians in charge and propagandists would rather have the problem than have the solution.

Indy law enforcement officers were left to seek solutions on their own regarding:

  • closing the revolving door;
  • standardizing charitable bail organizations;
  • clarifying so-called bail reforms with the Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court;
  • seeking real time information for officers on prohibited possessors;
  • achieving stronger standards for electronic monitoring throughout Indiana...
Every step of the way, we implored the Mayor to Act and Speak Out...he chose to stand silent.

In fact, he opposed establishing a nonpartisan panel to review Criminal Justice Outcomes in

Marion County. He called such a concept "ludicrous" and tragically that was nearly 900 lives ago.

Yet now he wants to enact significant Gun Control measures which appear to be predicated on the Permitless Carry Law enacted just last year.

The FOP opposed that proposal, but the people of Indiana spoke through their elected representatives.

Mr. Hogsett cannot get around the outcomes. Record breaking levels of death and destruction began long before July 1, 2022.

In fact, the multi-year record shattering pace coincides with the implementation of failed low bond policies plus sweetheart plea deals for repeat offenders which began 3 1/2 years ago in January 2020.

Mr. Hogsett's problems begin and conclude on his end of Market Street and the trail of destruction leads back to the Marion County Prosecutor and Court System.

The Mayor missed his opportunity for change by standing silent as violence surged and offenders ran free while the Prosecutor looked the other way (especially for crimes involving guns).

From the FedEx Massacre, to an Officer shot in the throat, to other victims of repeat offenders out on sweet heart plea deals...the Prosecutor failed to act and the Mayor failed to speak out
Rick Snyder, F.O.P. Lodge 86 President

Shreve's campaign said he will unveil his own violence reduction plan early next month.

If the committee votes in favor of the gun safety proposal, it will still need to go to the full city-county council for a vote.