Gun control debate comes to Indianapolis


Two Indiana moms clashed at the Statehouse Thursday, but only one side was armed.

They were seriously outgunned, but the group Moms Demand Action were undeterred.

Nicky McNally from Carmel was the group spokesperson.

"On average, eight children die each day in this country from gun violence. Eight," said McNally.

The group is asking for background checks on all gun sales, elimination of high capacity magazines and they want military-style weapons off the streets.

Just off to her right a handful of gun control opponents stood at attention, all armed with rifles that they described as AR-15 semi-automatic weapons strapped on their shoulders.

One man carrying a weapon remarked. "To me this is normal."

"To walk down the street with one of these on?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Yeah," he responded.

We listened as the two groups began to inch closer and closer, not in ideology but merely in distance. 

We asked one of the armed gun control opponents, "So are these for show or are these loaded?"

"Any weapon that is not loaded is just a rock or a club," he responded.

"Which means this is loaded," we confirmed.

"Yes," he said.

A Carmel mother of four, Nicky McNally became involved following the events at Sandy Hook Elementary. She will not let the gun toting opposition intimidate her.

She said, "Those are good, responsible people. I think we just disagree on where the line should be drawn."

She's not totally unarmed, however. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns Action Fund, is currently running commercials in central Indiana trying to convince Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) to support background checks. It initially included Senator Joe Donnelly as well but when he came out in favor of background checks his name was removed from the ad.

It shows a hunter sitting on a tailgate sporting what is clearly a hunting rifle and he says, "with rights comes responsibility. That is why I support comprehensive background checks."

Nick Voils was one of the armed demonstrators today who clearly disagrees with that sentiment.

"We are against any assault weapons ban, any magazine ban, universal background checks," said Voils.

Melinda Porter, a stroller-pushing Muncie mom, is head of the gun-toting lobby called Indiana Moms Against Gun Control.

As I spoke to her, she pointed to the man standing next to her to demonstrate her point of view. "I know him. I can sell him a gun. I know he is not going to do anything wrong with it. And that does not require a background check," she said.

But it does require a thick skin. Back to the conversation between the unarmed demonstrator and the armed one:

"What is the purpose...of walking around with it?" a woman asked.

"Of me owning it? Obviously it is a demonstration because a lot of people believe this is some kind of vicious item. This is nothing but a tool," said the armed man.

That prompts an onlooker from the Moms Demand Action to exclaim, "my protection is one of those rights from people like you carrying loaded guns on the street."

"What good is it if it is not loaded?" said the armed man.

"That's sick," said the onlooker.

When a man from group favoring more gun control questioned the need for anyone to have the kind of weapon the man was carrying, the man who was carrying it said, "It is my right to have this firearm and I don't have to show a need for this firearm to own it."

It's Indiana democracy at work - right on the state's front porch in full view of a passing NCAA team bus (which, incidentally, caused the whole crowd to go quiet for a short time.)

Moms Demand Action is asking for the following:

  • A ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than ten rounds
  • Background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases
  • The sale of large quantities of ammunition must be reported to the ATF
  • No online sales of ammunition
  • Gun trafficking should become a federal crime with serious criminal penalties

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to exclude the assault weapons ban from a gun control bill because he doesn't believe it would get enough votes to pass. President Obama says he still supports a ban.