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EDITORIAL

Indiana's contrarian approach to guns

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 3:24 pm

While others go for more control, we want to expand rights.

After the school massacre last month in Newtown, Conn., there was some speculation that the event was so horrific that it could spur stronger gun control even here in NRA-loving Indiana. Surely our legislators would at least see the wisdom of ending lifetime carry permits and requiring at least some weapons proficiency training for licensing.

But we tend to go our own way here, don't we? While other states and the federal government are easing into the gun control mode, here there are proposals to expand gun rights.

Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, has a proposal to allow students to carry firearms on Indiana's public university campuses.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, wants a bill that would exempt guns made exclusively in Indiana from federal rules and regulations.

It's hard to understand the logic of Kruse's notion or see what purpose it might serve. The only thing to say about it is that it's an odd take on the concept of federalism.

But Banks' proposal deserves a fair hearing. There is no logical reason on earth to treat a college campus any differently than any other place. The arguments for and against concealed carry are the same there and everywhere. Either gun-free zones keep people safe or they don't. Either letting people have guns enhances their safety or it doesn't.

As a practical matter, neither measure has a good chance of passing this session. Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, has assigned both to the Senate Rules Committee, a move that usually means the bills are being killed.

But their very presence should keep us grounded here instead of succumbing to the gun hysteria that seems to be gripping Washington. Horrific events that still reverberate in the national dialogue seem to lend urgency to the debate. But the heat of the moment does not create an atmosphere conducive to thoughtful discussion and careful deliberation. It takes time to sort out the good ideas.

Ideas such as requiring license seekers to take classes and occasionally renew their permits. It's in everyone's interest to keep guns away from or get guns away from people who should not have them and don't know how to use them. So those ideas need a fair hearing.

Won't happen, though. Whatever you think, good or bad, about the current state of Indiana gun laws, you might as well get used to it, because it isn't going to change any time soon.