On Tuesday, the Indiana House of Representatives passed SB 119, legislation that would roll back state law to allow civilians to carry loaded handguns throughout Indiana’s K-12 schools. And as if that weren’t concerning enough, nearly identical language is now included in House Bill 1651, a measure that passed the House last month.
Under current Indiana law, generally only trained law enforcement and security officers can carry guns in elementary, middle, and high schools. Both SB 119 and HB 1651 would open a broad exception for houses of worship located on school premises, allowing people present at a school “in connection with” a worship service or religious ceremony, or working or volunteering at a house of worship located at the school, to carry a loaded handgun anywhere on the school’s premises.
Under SB 119, certain elementary, middle, and high schools could even be forced to allow civilians to carry loaded handguns on school premises, regardless of the judgment of school administrators and safety professionals.
A new report on school safety, released in February by Everytown for Gun Safety and the country’s two largest teachers unions, notes that “the risk of an unintentional or intentional shooting increases when civilians are allowed to carry guns in schools.” The report also describes how the presence of armed staff members can complicate a law enforcement emergency response, and it lays out insurance and liability implications.
For more information on why Indiana lawmakers should reject efforts to roll back sensible state law protecting school communities, please don’t hesitate to reach out.