Recently, I was out canvassing Carmel neighborhoods, asking voters what their No. 1 issue priority was. Several responded with keeping their kids safe in school. One mom who stood at the doorway with her young son stated she was scared to send her child off to school on the bus in the morning. And then the next morning the Noblesville West Middle School shooting happened.
The Center for Disease Control’s latest statistics on gun violence ranks Indiana 18th with an average of 15 firearm deaths per 100,000 people. Compare that with the top five safest states with rates of 5.5 to 3.4 firearm deaths per 100,000 people. Those states – Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts – all have enacted multiple common-sense gun laws. And they are working.
We can make our state safer. Eight states – Illinois, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Washington and Rhode Island – already have, just since the February shooting in Parkland, Fla. Additionally, four northeast Democratic governors announced the formation of a state-based alliance to strengthen gun controls.
There are solutions. No parent should have to fear for their children’s safety when they are at school. We must demand our elected officials prioritize our safety as citizens with common-sense gun laws now to keep our kids safe. That includes more investment, education and legislation for mental health and wellness, restricting firearm access and research.
Gov. Holcomb, this issue is now in our backyard. Let’s do what Hoosiers do best and take care of each other. A state that works must first and foremost be a safe place to live. Please take bold steps now to protect the citizens of Indiana. Our children’s lives depend on it.
Naomi Bechtold, Carmel, Democratic candidate for District 24 state representative