EDITORIAL: Gun-shy Hammond's bravery rewarded

2013-07-21T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Gun-shy Hammond's bravery rewarded nwitimes.com
July 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Indiana Supreme Court has, in effect, ruled that Hammond can continue to have a gun control law on the books as long as the law -- rendered obsolete by a superseding state law -- is not enforced.

The high court last week rejected an appeal that would have forced the city to rescind a law that forbids possession of firearms in public buildings and public parks.

That leaves in place the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling last March that Samuel Dykstra, of Highland, who attends college in Hammond, and Michelle Bahus, of Hammond, were not harmed by the obsolete law that Hammond hasn't enforced.

A 2011 state law pre-empted all local gun regulations, including Hammond's.

"The NRA found two plaintiffs that filed a bogus lawsuit against the city of Hammond, and we defended ourselves well," Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. "In my opinion, Hammond was punished because I was unspoken about the way Indiana is going with gun control laws."

The appellate court ruling said Hammond could keep its law in place even though it's meaningless, at least in terms of enforcement.

Hammond's law has become a political statement, expressing a desire rather than a requirement. It's akin to passing a law requiring men to grow beards to celebrate a community's sesquicentennial.

We're glad to see the high court's decision, because Hammond shouldn't be punished for a law that isn't enforced.

"I'm not putting my name on something that says you can take a gun in the Hammond Civic Center," McDermott said. "Somebody's going to get killed one day with a gun in the Hammond Civic Center, and I'm going to blame all these idiots that voted for this law."

However, when Hammond eventually cleans up obsolete ordinances, this one needs to disappear. Repealing laws en masse won't be as poignant as singling out this ordinance would be.

Until then, this ordinance serves no purpose other than as the council's wistful expression of hope that public buildings and public parks in the city will be gun-free. Good luck with that.

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