Assault-gun ban unlikely (IN)


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Night Guy
August 22, 2004, 06:28 AM
Assault-gun ban unlikely
Survey of state lawmakers shows many wary of limits on weapons

http://www.indystar.com/articles/7/172435-4847-092.html

By Mary Beth Schneider, Michele McNeil Solida and John Strauss
mary.beth.schneider@indystar.com
August 22, 2004


Many Indiana lawmakers say they wouldn't ban assault weapons, despite last week's shooting rampage that left one Indianapolis policeman dead and four wounded.

But calls last week to more than half of the state's 150 legislators found much more interest in finding ways to keep guns out of the hands of people such as Kenneth C. Anderson, a schizophrenic who used an SKS military-style rifle to kill Patrolman Timothy "Jake" Laird during 16 terror-filled minutes early Wednesday morning.

One big question, many said, was whether a state government can do anything without trampling on the constitutional right to bear arms. It's a right that many of the lawmakers exercise themselves -- about six out of 10 of those contacted by The Indianapolis Star said they own guns.

"Banning guns would not solve the problem," said Rep. John Frenz, a Vincennes Democrat. "Would it have been better if (Anderson) had killed his mother with an ax and gone after the police with an ax?"

Favoring a ban was Sen. Lawrence M. Borst, R-Greenwood, who said he thinks it's past time to halt the sales on the kind of weapon Anderson wielded. "I'm all for it. I don't know why it wasn't done a long time ago," he said.

Borst, though, won't get a chance to vote for a measure if it does come to the Senate floor. He was defeated in the May primary election.

Confiscate, not ban

The Star tried to reach all 150 of Indiana's lawmakers Thursday and Friday. Of the 84 who were contacted, nearly four out of 10 were adamantly opposed to a statewide ban on military-style assault weapons, and just more than a quarter favored a ban.

Lawmakers were far more willing to find a way to confiscate weapons from mentally ill or dangerous people. Nearly half favored giving police more discretion to do that.

Many said they were troubled that police had taken away Anderson's arsenal of weapons on Jan. 20 only to return them in March because they had no legal standing to hold them any longer. Police had seized the cache of rifles, pistols and ammunition after Anderson, combative and rambling about his fears that people were trying to kill him, was taken to a hospital.

Police legal advisers said they had no recourse but to return the guns -- despite their fears -- because Anderson was neither a felon nor ever had been deemed mentally unstable by the courts.

"We've got to have more effective ways to prevent the wrong people from getting their hands on guns," said Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

"Insufficient laws"

Rep. David Orentlicher, an Indianapolis Democrat, is both an attorney and physician.

"Clearly the laws are insufficient," he said. "As a doctor, you're always looking for ways to prevent injury. As a lawyer, you could go either way on this. I do believe there is an individual right to bear arms under the Constitution. But the fact that there's a right doesn't prevent reasonable regulation."

Senate President Pro Tempore Robert D. Garton, R-Columbus, said he understood arguments both in favor of and against a ban on assault weapons. But he didn't think that kind of legislation would pass in Indiana.

Indiana lawmakers have been reluctant to expand gun control.

In 1993, lawmakers debated a measure that would have barred guns from many government buildings, including the Statehouse. It was killed after a show of hands in one committee hearing revealed both lawmakers and spectators admitted they were carrying guns. Lawmakers might have been worried about the spectators -- but they didn't want to disarm themselves.

Communities' choice

Sen. Murray Clark, R-Indianapolis, was among those who said an assault weapons ban might be right in some areas -- such as the existing ban in Gary -- but not in others. For that reason, he thinks it should remain up to local communities.

That's the way it was until 1994, when the legislature, with the backing of the National Rifle Association, stripped local communities of the right to enact most gun-control ordinances. The move killed an ordinance that had been approved in South Bend and ended the debate on one being considered in Indianapolis. Only the existing Gary and East Chicago ordinances remain in effect.

Last year, the legislature almost passed a sweeping gun immunity law that would have made gun owners free of nearly all liability if their guns were misused. That bill was watered down considerably, extending immunity only to those gun owners whose firearms are misused after they've been stolen.

Federal issue


Several lawmakers said they don't believe Indiana needs to take action, saying this is a federal issue because many assault weapons are already banned under a federal law passed in 1994.

The federal law bars the production and sale of 19 kinds of assault weapons, but it doesn't include the SKS, which Anderson used to kill Laird. And unless Congress acts, the federal law will expire at midnight Sept. 13.

Sen. Kent Adams, a Bremen Republican and former Indiana State Police trooper, thinks discretion is an important part of police work. But other lawmakers are unsure how to determine who is too unstable to have a gun.

And many are reluctant to give police too much power.

Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, is solidly in favor of a ban on assault weapons and has never owned a gun. Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, is solidly opposed to a weapons ban and does own a gun.

Determining who's safe

Both share a concern about giving police too much discretion to confiscate weapons.

"That's tricky," Crawford said. "Who determines who is dangerous and mentally ill?"

Koch agreed. "Unless police are capable of administering psychiatric exams, I don't know that we can give them that kind of discretion," he said.

State Rep. Charlie Brown is a Democrat from Gary, one of only two cities in the state with ordinances on the books banning assault weapons. Brown called a ban on such weapons "a no-brainer."

"Nobody is going hunting with assault weapons," he said.

Many lawmakers said it isn't their place to question why a law-abiding individual needs an assault rifle.

"Some people collect Avon bottles. Some people collect coins. Some people collect guns," said Sen. Rose Ann Antich-Carr, D-Merrillville.

Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn, doesn't need time to think about his stance on gun-control issues. "No rule, law or regulation is going to stop someone from murdering someone or committing suicide," he said.

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said he would vote for a state ban on assault weapons. "I don't think there's political support to do that, though," he said.

Call Star reporter Mary Beth Schneider at (317) 444-2772.

Legislative actions on gun-control measures
• 1983: The Indiana Senate defeats a House-passed bill that would have required local officials to destroy cheap handguns known as "Saturday night specials" rather than auctioning them off and putting them back into circulation.
• 1983: Gov. Robert Orr signs bills outlawing sales of armor-piercing plastic-coated handgun ammunition and making it illegal to possess a handgun whose serial number has been altered or obliterated.
• 1985: A new law approved by the legislature limits the possession of "stun guns" to adults who qualify for the possession of handguns.
• 1989: A measure that would restrict the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons fails to win support in the House. The city of East Chicago then approves its own ordinance banning such weapons. Indianapolis and other cities express similar interest.
• 1992-94: Legislation is introduced each session seeking to ban local communities from passing local gun-control ordinances. The ban is approved in 1994 as part of a larger crime bill and is signed into law by Gov. Evan Bayh.
• 1996: Bayh signs legislation allowing judges to impose stiffer sentences on criminals who commit crimes while using guns.
• 1996-97: In both sessions, legislators reject gun responsibility measures aimed at adults who knowingly leave unsecured guns within the reach of children who then use the guns to kill or injure another. The 1996 bill was defeated in a Senate vote. In 1997, a similar House bill was gutted of its original language and transformed into a gun-safety measure supported by the National Rifle Association.
• 1997: The Senate shoots down a proposed seven-day waiting period before purchasing a handgun.
• 2004: The House passes legislation that would have made gun owners who fail to safeguard their guns virtually immune from lawsuits. In the Senate, the provision was scaled back to cover only those instances in which a gun has been stolen.

********************************************************

State Rep. Charlie Brown - "Nobody is going hunting with assault weapons."

While certainly the common response we've all heard, in Indiana that's technically true. As I understand our hunting laws, no one may use ANY centerfire rifle to hunt. No bolt action. No lever action. And no semi auto.

http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/huntguide1/deerhnt.htm#lega

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jamz
August 22, 2004, 07:39 AM
Rep. David Orentlicher, an Indianapolis Democrat, is both an attorney and physician.

"Clearly the laws are insufficient," he said. "As a doctor, you're always looking for ways to prevent injury. As a lawyer, you could go either way on this. I do believe there is an individual right to bear arms under the Constitution. But the fact that there's a right doesn't prevent reasonable regulation."

I like this part. Physician, lawyer, but obviously not a logician.

El Tejon
August 22, 2004, 01:03 PM
Night Guy, that is incorrect.

ZeroX
August 22, 2004, 02:15 PM
"Banning guns would not solve the problem," said Rep. John Frenz, a Vincennes Democrat. "Would it have been better if (Anderson) had killed his mother with an ax and gone after the police with an ax?"

Great googly mooglies!

I love my state.

glocksman
August 22, 2004, 04:23 PM
Favoring a ban was Sen. Lawrence M. Borst, R-Greenwood, who said he thinks it's past time to halt the sales on the kind of weapon Anderson wielded. "I'm all for it. I don't know why it wasn't done a long time ago," he said.

Borst, though, won't get a chance to vote for a measure if it does come to the Senate floor. He was defeated in the May primary election.

Speaking as a resident of southwestern Indiana, I'm glad to see this useless SOB go for a lot of reasons besides the gun issue.
He's screwed over this end of the state in the Legislature for years.
Have fun on the unemployment line, Larry. :neener:



"Some people collect Avon bottles. Some people collect coins. Some people collect guns," said Sen. Rose Ann Antich-Carr, D-Merrillville

"Banning guns would not solve the problem," said Rep. John Frenz, a Vincennes Democrat. "Would it have been better if (Anderson) had killed his mother with an ax and gone after the police with an ax?"

This is why I don't vote party labels and instead vote individual candidates.

El Tejon
August 22, 2004, 05:30 PM
Amen about Larry Borst. Good riddance to bad rubbish! Molon labe, Larster.:cool:

Standing Wolf
August 22, 2004, 09:51 PM
Maybe Indiana should go after the root cause of violent crime: criminals.

Nah. Too obvious a solution. Sorry.

Night Guy
August 23, 2004, 12:59 AM
Night Guy, that is incorrect.

Well please correct me. I was basing my comment off of what I could find through DNR and everything I've ever heard. It wouldn't be the first time I was wrong.

2nd Amendment
August 23, 2004, 01:14 AM
You can use .22 rifles to hunt squirrels. There's some overlap between handgun and RIFLE(DUH!) calibers which can be used in handgun hunting for deer. Otherwise...?

garrettwc
August 23, 2004, 01:46 AM
I wish the paper would print the names of all the state lawmakers who responded and what their answer was. If you compare the numbers at the bottom of the article, it looks like most of the legislature is for the ban, or ducked the question outright.

They only included enough pro gun responses to make it appear balanced.

We're not really out of the woods in Indiana. We need to keep an eye on them. Especially at election time.

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