Panel backs allowing guns in school parking lots

WTHR file photo

Gun violence around the nation led to a state law making it a felony to have a gun on school property. Now one Indiana lawmaker says the state went too far.

536,000 Hoosiers are licensed to carry a firearm. Many of them would like to pick up their children at school, but as of now it is a felony to have a gun on school property.

State Representative Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) proposed an amendment at the Statehouse Tuesday to change that.

"It gives them the ability to lock that firearm in their vehicle, out of sight, on school property, without being subjected to a felony," Lucas said.

Nicky McNally, a mother of four from Carmel, took issue with that.

"The answer to combating gun violence is not to have more guns, readily accessible guns, guns within easy reach. As a mother, I oppose having guns stored in vehicles on school property. This amendment is dangerous because it increases the risk of gun-related incidents on school property," she said.

Lucas proposed the amendment to the gun buy-back bill that would prohibit local governments from using taxpayer money for such programs. It also would allow school shooting club members to store their firearms in their vehicles, as well.

Members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held up signs protesting the proposal.

"What if this student acts impulsively? What if he is upset with his match teacher about a failing math grade? What if this student feels bullied by his peers or, beyond students, what about the disgruntled ex-husband who loses it on his teacher ex-wife, as we saw at a daycare center in the past week?" McNally asked.

The National Rifle Association testified that the amendment would not deter criminals. It is for law-abiding citizens.

"We are talking about an unsuspecting unintentional mother who is taking her child to school and may need to get out of the vehicle for some reason. This would allow them to lock that firearm in their vehicle," said Trevor Santos with the NRA.

The House Public Policy Committee approved the bill Tuesday after adding the school gun provision to a bill that would prohibit local governments from using taxpayer money for gun buy-back programs.

Gun buy-backs sometimes are used to give residents an outlet to get rid of weapons without penalty. Those guns are then often destroyed.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Jim Tomes of Wadesville says he can't understand why police would want to destroy guns that have significant value and could be resold.

Opponents argue the measure takes the choice to hold such events away from cities and police departments.

The bill now advances to the full House.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)