Opinions mixed on bill allowing guns in school parking lots

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The Indiana House has approved a bill allowing guns to be stored in cars in school parking lots.
The House voted 74-24 to approve the measure Monday, on a largely party-line vote. The Senate approved a similar measure last month on a 28-21 vote.

Parents, in the very place it may soon be legal to have a gun, are divided over gun rights versus student safety.

"I don't have a problem with it," said parent Jason Elliot.

"I just don't think that would be a good idea," said parent Dianne Collins.

But it's an idea quickly gaining traction. House lawmakers passed a bill that would allow licensed gun owners to legally have firearms in school parking lots. This would apply to parents, teachers and other adults.

Students would only be allowed if they were members of a gun club and had permission from the principal. The proposal says guns would have to be locked up and out of sight in a vehicle's trunk or glove compartment.

Under the law right now, parents with a gun in their car at school face a felony.

"It subjected peaceful innocent people to a felony charge," said Republican House Representative Jim Lucas of Seymour. "When you look at what a D felony is, I mean, that's someone who possesses child pornography or involuntary manslaughter and I didn't feel that was proper to subject Hoosiers to that charge."

In fact, that happened in Greenfield this past summer. A parent visiting his child at school left his firearm in the car and was arrested by police.

Parent Angie Rodriguez is considering getting a gun for protection. But she says conflicted about whether that should be allowed near her child's school.

"I think it's a good choice, because I'm all about people protecting themselves," Rodriguez said. "On school property, though? That worries me. Just because of all the school shootings and everything. It definitely is a tough call."

"I'm a parent. I have two children in high school," Rep. Lucas said. "Nobody wants to see their children put at risk. We have to keep things in perspective. All of those shootings occurred in a gun-free zone. So bad people do not pay attention to laws."

Elliott agrees.

"People that don't follow the law are going to do it anyway, so people that are law-abiding citizens should be able to store their guns in cars at school," he said.

This bill now heads to negotiations, where both the House and Senate will iron out any differences on the issue. Even if it becomes law, it would still be a felony to take a gun inside a school building without permission.

No guns will be allowed on school buses.