RICH JAMES: This political theater was a farce

2013-04-14T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: This political theater was a farceBy Rich James nwitimes.com
April 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I’ve never met state Rep. Jim Lucas, a Republican from Seymour.

And I don’t particularly have any desire to do so.

I find him kind of scary. He would have fit right into George Orwell’s “1984.”

Talk about Big Brother watching.

Lucas is the guy who last week came up with one of the most frightening pieces of legislation ever proposed in the state of Indiana.

Lucas’ bill would have required at least one person with a weapon – even a volunteer – to patrol the hallways of every public and private school in the state.

While the proposal would have allowed school boards to opt out, an accounting of schools with an armed protection person would have been kept secret. Only Big Brother would have known.

And if you thought Lucas was operating on a different wavelength, try on Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that adopted Lucas’ amendment.

About the secrecy, Brown said, “That way, a potential gunman or potential assailant won’t know whether the school has an armed employee.”

Get real. Anyone sick enough to enter a school and begin firing isn’t going to take the time to investigate whether the school has armed protection on duty. Don’t those gunmen plan to die anyway?

Perhaps the most frightening part about Lucas’ proposal is that the decision to arm or not arm was to be made by school boards in secret sessions. And the identity of the armed protection person would have been kept secret. In Big Brother we trust.

Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, a former police officer and school board member, said putting untrained civilians with loaded guns in schools is “the worst thing that you can do” to improve school safety.

Give Rep. Hal Slager, of Schererville, credit. He was the lone Republican to oppose Lucas’ proposal in committee. He said the school safety plan had become “a convoluted mess.”

House Republicans killed Lucas’ proposal on Thursday. The disconcerting thing about that is it took them five hours to do so.

After four months, the Legislature appears poised to do little more than order an interim study committee to look at school safety.

Isn’t that what should have been done in the first place? Of course.

But don’t forget that the Legislature is a stage and there are 150 lawmakers looking for a piece of the limelight – especially given the school tragedies the nation has suffered.

Having your voice heard in a summer study committee may be important, but in the realm of theater, it’s like appearing in an off-Broadway play.

It’s not an acceptable stage for the Jim Lucases of the world.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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