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5/14/2017 7:39:00 PM
EDITORIAL: New gun law puts victims in more jeopardy


There are a number of holes in a new state law that allows domestic violence victims to carry a handgun without a permit.

The new law says the victim must have a protective order against the alleged abuser to obtain and carry the handgun, sidestepping the 60-day waiting period.

It puts guns into the hands of untrained, emotionally overwrought victims. Toss in the typical psychological hold an abuser has over the victim and the combination could be deadly.

And, in many cases children will be involved and possibly become the collateral damage of an argument or attack that ends up with bullets flying.

The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, maintains his legislation gives victims an extra layer of protection by allowing them to carry a gun during the 60-day waiting period. He reasoned they should be able to protect themselves while they're waiting for their permit to come in the mail.

It's hard to believe the Indiana General Assembly ignored the advice from a former police officer, who's now a legislator, and from domestic violence advocates as they ushered in this measure that could do more harm than good.

Police who answer domestic violence calls know more about the issue than disengaged legislators, but their advice had little impact on lawmakers, who often take the side of the gun industry when it comes to legislation. In the same session, lawmakers gave themselves the right to carry a gun in the Statehouse while they attend to business in their respective House and Senate chambers.

Before she joined the Legislature, state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, spent her career as a Hammond police officer, often dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence. "When you add a gun to a domestic violence situation it only increases the probability that someone is going to get killed by that gun. And my opinion is that it's going to be the women."

Lawson opposed the bill, also voicing concern for domestic violence victims acquiring gun permits without proper safety training because she fears victims will gain a false sense of security.

In Porter County alone last year, police handled 1,338 domestic violence calls or about four a day. Police know too well the uncertainty they venture into when they enter a hostile situation.

Sharon Bennett, the commander of the Lake County Sheriff's Special Victims Unit, said the addition of more guns creates more risk to domestic violence victims and to police officers.

"It would be nice if we were the only ones entering a situation with a handgun. Now we're going to be putting more weapons in the hands of untrained people and people who are risking having those guns taken away from them and used on them and on the police," she said.

No woman or man should be physically abused. As a society, we should do a better job of educating children about respect and ways to achieve peaceful resolutions to conflict. Even if that's in place, other factors come into play, such as drug or alcohol abuse, that often lead to violence.

Arming victims isn't the answer to this complicated dynamic.

Copyright 2017, Chicago Tribune

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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