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Where Indiana Stands On Gun Control One Year After Newtown

A woman shoots a gun at the Elm Fork shooting range.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting–an event that brought gun control into the spotlight not just in Connecticut, but across the nation.

Here’s a look how the topic of gun control has played out since that day and where Hoosiers stand on the issue.

School Resources Officers and Armed School Guards

In January, Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon, proposed legislation that would provide state funding for school districts to hire school resource officers. The proposal was in the works for some time, even before Sandy Hook, but after the shooting, the bill quickly gained public attention.

The bill passed the Senate, but a House committee changed the language to require every school in the state to have an armed guard.

That made the measure much more controversial, but the language was eventually stripped from the legislation and the legislature and the governor approved it.

Mothers For And Against Gun Control

As the year continued, two groups headed by mothers held several dueling protests.

Indianapolis mother Shannon Watts founded the nonprofit Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was originally called One Million Moms for Gun Control.

In addition to hosting rallies in Indiana, the group quickly gained national attention, and this month launched a series of national advertisements to coincide with Newtown’s anniversary.

But the group has received opposition, in part from another group called Indiana Moms Against Gun Control. The group argues that guns are not the problem and they often are used as protection.

Survey: Most Hoosiers Support Stricter Gun Laws

The WISH-TV/Ball State Hoosier Survey released last month, based on 605 random samples, shows the majority of those surveyed favor tighter gun-control laws.

83 percent support background checks. About 65 percent support a federal database for gun sales. Only 38 percent support arming teachers. WISH-TV reports the statistics are in line with other states.

For interpretation we went to Indiana University where Paul Helmke is now a professor.
For five years he led the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C.

“Those are the type of numbers you’d be surprised to see in a California or a Maryland or New York,” said Helmke, “or one of the states that’s done a lot on guns.”

The Hoosier Survey also found 54 percent in favor of a complete ban on assault-style weapons with 44 percent opposed.

“In every case the number of Hoosiers who are supportive of gun control measures,” said Ball State political scientist Joe Losco, “are just within a couple of percentage points of the national average.

The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.8 percent.

How Indiana Compares To The Nation

This week, a report from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence indicated Indiana has poor gun regulations, giving the state a D-.

As the IndyStar reports, the groups faulted Indiana for letting firearms be carried at schools by school-authorized personnel, even if they are not police officers.

And the groups said Indiana made it tougher to prosecute someone who sells a handgun without a license.

Still, Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the moves by Indiana and other states that weakened regulations were not as significant as the steps taken by states that toughened rules.

“They’re not good. They’re dangerous laws,” Cutilletta said of the actions by Indiana and other states. “But they don’t revise the gun laws in a major way.”

By contrast, the groups said, eight states enacted major gun reforms. Those included requirements that gun owners report lost or stolen guns to the police, new or tougher rules on gun and ammunition sales, and stronger assault weapons laws.

But critics of the report say the scoring is skewed. Five states received A’s. Twenty-five received F’s.

Network Indiana contributed to this report.

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