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Lawmakers Weigh Options After Two Police Officer Shootings

Sen. Jim Merritt plans to pursue gun violence legislation in response to what he calls a “crisis” in Indiana’s urban areas.

police car at school

Photo: olycopwatchphoto (Flickr)

Two police officers - one in Gary and one in Indianapolis - were killed over the holiday weekend.

Sen.  Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, says he’s going to push for legislation next session that would dramatically increase penalty enhancements for criminals that use a gun.

Over the weekend, two police officers – one in Indianapolis and one in Gary – were shot and killed. Seven bystanders were also injured in a shootout in an Indianapolis neighborhood.

Merritt says the time is ripe to send a message to criminals who use guns. Last session, Merritt co-authored a bill that allows prosecutors and judges to add anywhere from five to 20 years to a sentence if a gun was used in a kidnapping, to illegally restrain someone, or if the crime resulted in death or serious injury.

Merritt says next session, he’ll promote a bill that creates a mandatory enhancement:

“If you have a gun and you’re brandishing it – you don’t even need to fire it – you’ll be eligible for a 20-year enhancement, if you’re convicted of the crime,” says Merritt.

Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, sponsored last session’s gun crime enhancement bill and is one of the architects of the state’s criminal code overhaul.  He says the legislature can’t only focus on punishing crimes after the fact.

“It’s not as simple as just throwing the book at somebody after it happens,” McMillin says. “And even if it is, you’re still handling it after it happens…and we want to prevent these things from happening in the first place.”

McMillin says lawmakers need to focus on helping treat mental health issues and addition, which he says are often at the root of these crimes.

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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