INDIANAPOLIS — A gun control ordinance put forward by Mayor Joe Hogsett passed out of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday evening.
The vote was along party lines with Democrats voting yes and Republicans voting no.
Proposal 156 would raise the legal age to purchase a firearm in Marion County to 21, ban “semiautomatic assault weapons”, roll back permit-less carry and prohibit the concealed carry of a gun.
“These policies were selected because they are supported by the vast, vast majority of the people of the city of Indianapolis,” Hogsett said during Wednesday’s meeting.
The ordinance was put forward by Hogsett as part of his efforts to target crime and gun violence in the city.
If passed by the full council, the ordinance will have no immediate impact because of Indiana’s pre-emption law which prevents local municipalities from regulating virtually anything surrounding guns.
The ordinance would essentially act as a trigger law and would go into effect only if that state law is changed or struck down by the courts.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said despite the lack of immediate impact, this action matters to families who have been impacted by the near-record violence Indianapolis has experienced.
“It’s important to me, it’s important to our officers and it’s important to this community so that’s why we’re doing it,” Taylor said.
The democrats on the council agreed, arguing it not only sends a message but could have an impact if the state’s pre-emption law is changed.
“I don’t think it’s posturing,” Councillor Crista Carlino said. “I don’t think it’s empty because it is codified, and you will be able to look it up and point to it in municipal code in Marion County.”
However, the committee’s Republican members argued that passing an ordinance that has no immediate impact is a waste of time and the wrong approach to the issue.
“These ‘what if’ statements don’t work,” Councilor Brian Mowery said. “Instead of trying to blame firearms, let’s look at the people who are doing the wrongdoing and put them behind bars.”
The meeting was often contentious with several outbursts from the audience in attendance. At one point a man had to be escorted out by deputies.
Lobbying groups like Moms Demand Action along with The 2nd Amendment Project were on hand, pleading their cases to the councilors.
“Restrictions on assault weapons will certainly help prevent mass shootings,” Liz Mozer with Mom’s Demand Action said.
“This is all about politics and not keeping anyone safer,” 2nd amendment advocate Guy Relford said.
Following the meeting, Chief Taylor said he has learned that he can’t please everyone and respects the different points of view expressed. However, he stands by the city’s approach.
“So even though I may not agree with them I understand where they’re coming from,” Taylor said. “But I think we got the right path on this.”
Legal professor Jody Madeira said the state’s pre-emption law being struck down or rescinded is unlikely. Madeira said those types of laws have been repeatedly upheld by state and federal courts.
The ordinance will go for a vote before the full council next month.