Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron doesn’t regret taking to Facebook to share her outrage about the nation’s gun laws in expletive-laced comments inspired by the May 24 killing of 19 students and two teachers with an assault rifle at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
She said she woke up the morning of May 27 feeling “overwhelmed with frustration and, honestly, rage,” so when she saw a comment from a Westfield man stating that mental illness is a primary cause of mass shootings, she felt she couldn’t remain silent.
“I was tired of listening to what he had to say, and I cussed,” Styron said, adding that she cusses routinely. “I don’t understand why we’re not all shouting and cussing over this horrible, horrible situation that happened and that continues to be a narrative for this country.”
The online back-and-forth began May 26 when Zionsville-based Robert Goodman Jewelers posted about the need for businesses to “put aside profit” and “support candidates who support change.” Later that day, Joel Bardach of Westfield, who does not personally know Styron, made several comments on the post, eventually stating that mass shootings are “a mental illness problem,” that you “can’t get rid of the guns,” that violence in Chicago and New York “prove gun laws alone don’t work” and that there is “no easy answer from anyone.”
The following day at 2:22 p.m., Styron posted an expletive-laced reply to Bardach from her personal Facebook account.
“Hey Joel Bardach … [expletive]you. I am so sick and tired of the stupid, useless rhetoric by jack***** like you when it comes to gun regulation. [Expletive] sick and tired of mass murders if (sic) OUR [expletive]CHILDREN… it’s time for the majority who know that gun permits and banning automatic weapons is COMMON [expletive]SENSE. So yeah, [expletive]YOU,” Styron’s post states.
Styron’s youngest child is the same age as many of the children murdered in Uvalde, and her oldest child wasn’t much older than the children gunned down in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
“We have yet another classroom of children mowed down by a gun. I’m [expletive]. I don’t give a damn about thoughts and prayers and the handwringing and ‘We’re so sad about this and mental health.’ This is all crap,” she said. “The problem is the access to guns. For me, when I woke up that morning, I’m like, ‘Who is going to start to challenge these policy makers that refuse to implement sensible, rational gun reform?’”
Robert Goodman, a self-described liberal who owns Robert Goodman Jewelers with his wife, Rose-Marie, said he often uses his business Facebook page to post about issues he finds important. He said he supports Styron’s message and doesn’t have a problem with the language she used to get it across.
“I think Emily has done us all a service. She has done something politicians won’t do, because they’re worried about being re-elected,” Goodman said. “Here we have a politician who says what she feels from her heart and what worries her and that’s concerning her when her child goes to school, and she said it with language that emphasizes it and shows her (strong feelings).”
The Goodmans declared their store a gun-free space in April 2021 to show their support for stricter gun laws and dissatisfaction with existing ones. But, like Styron, he believes substantial change is most likely to occur by electing legislators willing to tighten gun laws.
As Zionsville mayor, Styron said she works with the police department to reduce the likelihood of gun violence by ensuring officers are well trained in responding to dangerous situations and ensuring they can be a resource for community members about gun safety.
Stryon said she wants to use her platform to encourage people who support gun reform to run for elected offices that can make meaningful changes. She said she has no desire to run for office beyond the local level.
“The most important thing, from my perspective, is to orient the conversation back around how are we going to make meaningful gun laws that are going to make our community safer?” Styron said. “I spoke my mind, not a hidden agenda, and I think people should be much more upset about prolific gun violence in our country than about cuss words.”