U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., describes himself as a problem-solver, and he’s right.
Young said he pushed for allowing dialysis centers to be a single point of contact for multiple types of medical care. That makes sense; help patients get additional care while already at a medical facility to undergo treatment.
He’s also pushing his “fair shot” agenda to help people who have been adversely affected by the changing economy. Everyone needs a fair shot at success. That’s problem-solving.
But he also needs to address the plague of school shootings happening across the United States.
What should be the federal government’s response? In particular, how should Congress respond? How can this problem be fixed?
The Times Editorial Board asked Young about this issue last week when he visited Northwest Indiana.
Young, a Second Amendment supporter, acknowledges the dilemma of balancing a freedom guaranteed in the Bill of Rights with a public safety crisis.
“The most important thing is to make sure our kids are safe when we send them off to school,” he said.
Federal money is available for technology to make schools safer, and potentially Congress could strengthen those programs, he said.
Young noted that schools are required to conduct fire drills to prepare students for that emergency.
“I’m not sure of the last time I heard of a fire in a school,” he said. “It’s a lot less common.”
Active shooter drills, even if implemented, aren't enough.
Young is smart to seek clarity on probing questions to provide the right answers.
For example, when we’re talking about screening would-be gun purchasers for mental illness, what kind of illness are we talking about? Should a short-term mental health issue disqualify a person from buying a gun?
“Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “That’s something that needs to be discussed.”
Young lifted up Indiana’s “red flag” law that allows police to seize firearms without a court hearing when a person is believed to be a threat to himself or another party.
In the case of the Parkland, Florida shooting, there were dozens of calls to police, including the FBI, from people concerned about the killer’s behavior. Young suggested a public information campaign could let people know police have the option to seize firearms when a threat of harm is suspected.
“I think that would be a path to minimizing the extent to which we see these things,” he said.
Sharing information between law enforcement agencies would help, too. That’s a lesson from 9/11 changing law enforcement. Porter County, for example, is on the verge of switching to an 800-megahertz system for emergency dispatch to better allow communication between agencies. Lake and LaPorte counties already have made the switch.
Sharing with other law enforcement agencies any credible information about people who might be threats to others should happen.
"That information needs to be shared with various federal authorities. We've got a real problem with reporting there," he said.
We’re now seeing survivors of the Florida shooting and parents demanding dialogue on gun control in this country in a way we haven’t seen since the March 30, 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. It’s a healthy discussion.
Determining who should and shouldn’t be allowed to purchase weapons has become an urgent concern.
Looming on the horizon is an even trickier challenge. How can, and should, the federal government limit access to plans that would allow anyone with a 3D printer to print out and assemble parts for a gun? That produces a gun without a serial number, easily assembled at anyone's home or office.
I urged him to think about that, knowing it’s going to take time to solve this problem.
Young, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he could envision troops using 3D printers to make parts that otherwise would be unavailable while they’re out in the field. Now, he said, he realizes this technology can be used for evil as well as good.
Here in the Region, threats, possible threats and rumors of threats have been reported in multiple school districts in recent days. The fear of school shootings has everyone on edge, as it should.
Young, the problem-solver, has a lot of work cut out for him.