Indiana lawmakers soon could have their staffs armed

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Wednesday’s Virginia shooting involving politicians and staff is another example why some Indiana lawmakers want their staffs armed.

Starting soon, Statehouse staff will be allowed to bring a gun to work. It’s a law that state Sen. Jim Tomes, a Republican from Wadesville, worked on for a couple years because he said staff should be armed.

“They sometimes get there before the lawmakers get there,” Tomes said. “They leave later. Sometimes after everybody is gone.”

During the summer, they can park close to the Statehouse. But when lawmakers are in session, staff members are forced to park in garages which are a couple blocks away. “I just felt that they should not be denied their opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights as well,” Tomes said.

Opponents argue this law might create a slippery slope. “Is the next step to let the lobbyists have guns too to protect themselves from staff members,” asked State Sen. Greg Taylor, a Democrat from Indianapolis.

Staff who plan to take advantage of the law recently received gun training. They must also have a license to carry, and be permitted to do so. But some aren’t sure this is enough.

“If they’re going to fire upon you, the odds are you’re not going to have a chance to either dig in your purse, dig in your pocket to shoot back,” Taylor said. “I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it works.”

A debate fueled by Wednesday’s shooting with Hoosiers mixed if the answer is to put more weapons in the Statehouse.

“A lot of places have security already,” Indianapolis resident Pat Myers said. “So, I’d rather them have the guns and not just regular employees.”

“If nobody is armed, how is anybody going to defend anyone in that situation,” Fort Wayne resident Stella Stuckey said. “The only thing you can do is cower and hide.”

This law doesn’t apply to lawmakers. They are already able to carry weapons inside the Statehouse.

Senate Bill 43 was approved by both chambers, and the governor this past session. We’re told no firm date is set for when staffers will be allowed to carry guns. Once a policy is approved, they’ll be able to do so.

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