EDITORIAL: Don't shoot for local gun control laws

2013-08-08T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Don't shoot for local gun control laws nwitimes.com
August 08, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher says municipalities should be able to create their own gun control laws. This is the voice of frustration, but not necessarily practicality.

Hatcher is upset with state laws that seem to encourage gun ownership.

"What is it about our gun laws here in the state of Indiana that seem to facilitate the ability to get guns?" Hatcher asked. "I understand we have a state Legislature and a governor that is very conservative. Getting gun control legislation through the Legislature is almost impossible."

A 2011 law explicitly prohibited local governments from having independent regulations pertaining to firearms, ammunition and gun ownership.

That surely rankles the Democrats in Gary, where homicides are up 48 percent this year.

A coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement officials are discussing ways to reduce the violence. Their options on gun control are slim to none, and Slim just left town, as the old saying goes.

Downstate legislators who live in communities where violent crime involving guns is rare don't have the same perspective as those in communities where gangs, drugs and guns are a lethal combination.

"My suggestion is, why couldn't we have a local option gun-control measure?" Hatcher said. "If you live in Greenfield, Ind., where there's maybe one murder every 20 years, and I live in Gary, where there's one murder every day, you may not want gun control. But the people who live in these communities where there's such an abuse of guns want it."

Perhaps those residents want gun control, but let's be practical.

As a political map of Northwest Indiana shows, municipal boundaries are not easily discernible. Often, one community flows into the next. Complying with varying laws wouldn't be easy for someone who expects to carry a gun legally.

That's why issues like this are better addressed at the state or federal level.

Local leaders are right to be concerned about how the proliferation of guns affects their communities, but these actions are better left to state and federal authorities, who have much broader jurisdictions.

Let the locals focus on local issues, and let state and federal leaders look at broader issues like gun control, with input from local officials and others affected by state and federal decisions.

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