INDIANPOLIS — After a sparsely attended prayer service intended to support local leaders in the fight against crime, Mayor Joe Hogsett told reporters that state lawmakers did his city no favors in scrapping Indiana’s handgun permit system last week.
“Certainly making it easier for people to have access to guns or to carry guns or to obtain guns without necessarily a permit is a step in the wrong direction,” said Hogsett in the lobby of First Trinity Lutheran Church on East 42nd Street Sunday afternoon.
“The problem is we have too many people out on our streets and in our neighborhoods who have no legal right to possess the weapons that they possess and they get ahold of them anyway.”
Hogsett, along with Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, IMPD Chief Randall Taylor and City County Councilor Keith Graves were the beneficiaries of a prayer service attended by just a handful of people.
“I don’t want our young folks or any of our folks to get too used to the sound of gunfire,” said Taylor.
“What can we do to make Indianapolis safer? What can we do to make Indianapolis more fair?” asked Mears.
“Dubarry Park is in District 13,” said Graves, referring to the neighborhood park where a pair of 14 and 15-year-old boys were shot to death Monday night. “I had some tragic news about some other teens in my community that will no longer be able to fulfill their dreams and will no longer be able to pursue their goals in their lives.”
Hogsett was not asked to speak during the service.
Afterward he compared the current 2022 homicide total of 38 with the homicide tally of a year ago on this date that stood at 50.
“I think the numbers are going in the right direction and that is down,” he said. “I think as a whole if you look at January, February and now halfway through March, we’ll wait until the end of the year before any declarations are made, but certainly the preliminary indications are we are headed in the right direction.”
One year ago, on March 13, 2021, Indianapolis suffered its second mass murder of the year when four people were found shot to death on Randolph Street in a dispute over a stimulus check.
While the raw number of homicides is significantly down compared to a year ago, as of this date in 2021 there had been 40 homicide incidents in Indianapolis compared to 37 during the same time this year.
The legislature also passed a bill to create the Marion County Crime Reduction Board which not only codifies agreements to permit state law enforcement agencies to come off state properties and patrol the streets of Indianapolis but also establishes an authority to direct grant money toward high crime census tracks in Marion County.
“I think the state and the city, local units of government, counties as well, working together cooperatively will go a long way toward arresting the gun violence that all too frequently overtakes our neighborhoods,” said Hogsett.