Indianapolis councilor asks state lawmakers to support a ban on ‘assault weapons and high-capacity magazines’

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- An Indianapolis City-County councilor is kicking off a conversation about guns by introducing a special resolution at Monday's council meeting. It asks state lawmakers to support a "ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines."

"I'm trying to be proactive, get out ahead of the homicides, that's all. As we reduce the number of guns accessible out here on the streets we think we'll see a downturn in homicides and aggravated assaults," said Councilor William Oliver.

Oliver said he wants the community to have a conversation and figure out what can be done to combat the trafficking and easy accessibility of weapons, pointing to homicides, aggravated assaults and the killing of a 1-year old girl less than two weeks ago in Indianapolis.

"I use the term ban assault weapon, that's a term that's used loosely. I used it, but it's just to get the attention and idea to get the attention about the proliferation of guns and weapons into all of our communities. It's done that," Oliver said.
But while some Republican councilors said they're open to conversations, they take issue with the wording.
"I'm respectful of the spirit of it and in it's current form no I can't support it, because like I said it's based on incorrect terminology. I do not think it will actually enable a dialogue. I think it will actually continue to have both sides be entrenched, on the one hand the we want an assault weapons ban on the other side is the 'from my cold dead hands.' I think if you start having an honest conversation with correct terminology I think there's a lot of things, a lot of common ground people could agree on," Councilor Scott Kreider said.
Other councilors questioned if taking up the resolution is a good use of their time, since it is non-binding.

"I personally feel we should spend our time working on issues with mental illness, the people who are actually committing these crime, community policing, things we can actually get our hands around more so than just kind of pointing fingers and saying this sounds really good let's do this," said Council Minority Leader Michael McQuillen.

The council can't pass its own gun ordinance, so the special resolution would need to pass out of committee, pass the council, gain Mayor Joe Hogsett's approval then the approval of the Republican-controlled statehouse.

At the statehouse, Sen. Minority Leader Tim Lanane released this statement:

“I understand that our cities are frustrated by the amount of gun violence their residents face. Now is the time for legislators to debate and pass common sense gun laws that are widely supported by the public to keep Hoosiers safe. Senate Democrats pushed efforts during the 2018 legislative session to debate raising the legal age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21, banning the sale of adjustments that convert firearms to automatic weapons and strengthening the background check process for purchasing firearms.  Unfortunately, these issues were not given a hearing. This resolution from the Indianapolis City-County Council shows that our communities are ready for action, and legislators can’t keep putting off this important issue regarding public safety.”

On the Republican side, though, State Sen. Jim Merritt, the Marion County Republican chairman, said there's plenty of conversation about guns at the statehouse, but said he thinks the legislature would have a hard time supporting the resolution.

"We all want everyone to be safe but we also want to give respect and observe the second amendment and so it's important that we have lots of conversation that people understand we're representing our constituents," Merritt said. "But with the second amendment being part of the federal constitution that's really where everyone resides and we've just got to protect that."