Senator wants Hoosier gun owners to properly secure weapons after Noblesville shooting

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – An Indiana lawmaker is taking action to hold Hoosiers accountable for weapons in their homes after the Noblesville West Middle School shooting.

The shooting raised a lot of questions about how a 13-year-old could get a hold of his parents' guns and why no one else faced any consequences.

"Certainly there was a frustration," recalled Senator Jim Merritt. "Everybody looked at the parents."

He told FOX59 News about the legislation he's working on that would require gun owners to properly secure their weapons to prevent another child from getting ahold of a gun. He's been gathering information about the school shooting and talking with the National Rifle Association as he prepares to write the bill.

"I think we look towards the availability of guns in the household and the responsibility of parents and adults in the storage of their guns," he said. "State law does need to be tightened a little bit on how guns are stored at homes."

Children gaining access to guns is a real problem in Indiana.

Last year, FOX59 Investigates told you about a report which ranked Indiana the 7th worst state in the entire country for accidental shootings involving kids. We even showed you hidden camera video we filmed of kids grabbing an unloaded gun when their parents weren't around.

Right now, there are only a few ways parents would ever face any repercussions for their child's actions.

An adult could get into trouble if they are considered negligent by leaving their weapon out allowing a child to accidentally hurt themselves or someone else in the house. Or if an adult provides a firearm to a child, knowing that child intends to use the firearm to commit a crime.

"It's murky," said Merritt.

He wants to tighten the wording so that gun owners are required to properly secure their weapons.

"It's going to be very clear that parents have to keep their guns stored safely in their homes," he explained. "There will be charges. It could be as much as a felony."

Not everyone is on board.

"It's very easy after a tragedy like this to say 'Oh my gosh all guns have to be locked up and it oughta be a crime for it not to be locked up.' But that, to me, goes way too far when there are clearly some people that are under 18 out there that can safely handle firearms," said Guy Relford, a second amendment attorney.

He believes our current laws exist to protect people's rights to defend themselves.

"A similar law in Washington D.C. was struck down by the Supreme Court... as unconstitutional, because it essentially deprived people of their ability to defend themselves in their home if their gun had to be either disassembled or locked up all the time."

Merritt's new legislation may have been inspired by the Noblesville case, but it's unclear if it would have had any impact. The shooter's parents did keep their guns locked up in a safe in the basement. The boy found the key.

Still, Merritt wants parents to know, he will do his best so what happened at Noblesville West doesn't happen again.

"I understand frustration. I understand disappointment," he said. "The bottom line is, we can't have kids taking guns to school and using them."