Debate heats up at Indiana Statehouse over guns in school parking lots bill
By Kevin Rader, WTHR political reporter - bio | email
Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action
Trevor Santos, National Rifle Association
Indiana lawmakers encountered more pushback Monday against a bill that would allow guns in cars on school property as long as they are hidden and in the parking lot.
The letter Eyewitness News first reported last week, signed by the Indiana Associations of Principals, Superintendents, School Boards and Teachers Association opposing the amendment allowing firearms to be secured in vehicles in school parking lots was handed out to all members of the conference committee Monday morning.
"ISTA rises to oppose this bill," said Ronnie Embry.
"Schools do not want firearms on their properties and neither do the mothers of Indiana," said Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action.
But it was the testimony of Watts, a Zionsville mother of five, that seemed to raise the committee's ire. Members questioned her background.
"You also go by the name Traughton?" one lawmaker asked.
"My maiden name is Trenton," Watts answered.
"You were three years director of global public and corporate affairs for Monsanto?" she was asked.
"Yes, I was," Watts responded.
Watts founded Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense in America the day after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
"These are areas in America where we keep our children and our families safe from armed criminals," Watts argued.
"There was an 83% increase in the nation for license to carry a gun in the last year with a majority being among women. Do you doubt these statistics?" Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) asked.
"If more guns were the answer, we would be the safest country in the world. In fact, we have the highest rate of gun violence of any developed country in the world," she said.
"Being a professional marketer I am sure you understand how easy statistics are to manipulate and come up with a conclusion one likes," Rep. Lucas said.
"I have heard that, yes," Watts said.
"There are tens of thousands of permanent license holders here in Indiana, vetted by the state, gone through background checks and we feel they should not become a felon because they pass an imaginary line," said Trevor Santos, National Rifle Association.
"That is why moms do have to step up and say we are not going to let the gun lobby and legislators who in many ways are in their pockets make the laws for our children and our communities," Watts said.
The committee, which is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats (one each from the Indiana House and Senate), has yet to sign off on the bill. All four must sign before it can move on for a floor vote. The speaker can remove a member if it is not moving, so that may be something to watch. WTHR will continue to bring you updates on this story.