Ernest Rollins and Lauren Bavis, Herald-Times
|Response from state's U.S. senators|
|Jay Kenworthy, a spokesman with U.S. Sen. Todd Young's office, said the Republican is heartbroken by the news of the shooting in Texas and offers his deepest condolences to the victims and their loved ones.|
While the senator strongly supports the rights granted to American citizens through the Second Amendment, Kenworthy said the senator also supports measures to prevent gun violence. These include steps such as strengthening mental health programs, enforcing current gun laws and funding the existing background check system.
Young's Democratic counterpart in the U.S. Senate, Joe Donnelly, also expressed his condolences to victims in Texas through a tweet on Sunday.
Donnelly's spokesman noted the Indiana senator has long supported efforts to reduce gun violence while protecting law-abiding citizens' Second Amendment rights. For example, Donnelly supported measures to strengthen background check systems and keep terrorist watch list individuals from being able to purchase firearms, Michael Campbell, press secretary for Donnelly, said in an email on Monday.
"I believe that we should take steps to reduce gun violence, while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens," Donnelly said in a statement to the H-T. "I’ve supported measures to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, and people with dangerous mental illnesses, including bipartisan legislation to strengthen the background check system. I will review any legislation that comes before the Senate."
Monroe County's Democratic state legislators say that as long as the Republican Party holds a majority, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to pass any state laws intended to help curb the types of gun violence displayed prominently in two mass shootings in a little over a month.
One area Republican legislator declined to comment on whether the mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Sutherland Springs, Texas, which together left at least 85 people dead and more than 500 injured, will affect his priorities going into the Indiana Legislature's Organization Day, which is Nov. 21.
A spokeswoman for state Rep. Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomington, said "he's going to pass" on requests for a comment.
State Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, was unavailable to talk about the issue Tuesday afternoon.
State Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, and state Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, both said that any attempt to pass any state legislation limiting Second Amendment rights would be unsuccessful, despite bipartisan support for basic gun control efforts such as extending background checks and tightening the regulations on what guns can be sold at gun shows and to whom.
"I can understand people's frustration about these events that continue to happen," Pierce said by phone Monday. "The policymakers in control just do not want to address the issue."
Stoops said in recent years there have been more efforts in the General Assembly to weaken gun control laws in the state than strengthen them — a trend he projects will continue into next year’s session.
“The politicians that are opposed to any controls on gun ownership will always say that this isn't the time to talk about it,” Stoops said. “In my opinion, it is exactly the time we need to focus on this problem.”
Changes to gun control seems to be on the table for at least one state representative. In a statement issued on Oct. 30, State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said he plans to introduce constitutional carry legislation, which would allow a person to carry a handgun without being required to obtain a license to carry.