Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, recognizes Wayne LaPierre, the CEO and executive vice president of the NRA, and Randy Kozuch, the interim executive director of the lobbying arm of the NRA, during a Senate resolution Tuesday April 11. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Nearly every Republican senator signed onto a Tuesday resolution honoring the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is holding its 152nd annual convention in Indianapolis this weekend.
Democrats didn’t speak in opposition to the resolution nor did anyone recognize recent victims of mass shootings. On Monday, five died in a shooting at a Louisville bank and two weeks before that six died, including three 9-year-old children, in a shooting at a private school in Tennessee.
After a review of the history of the organization, resolution author Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, shared current programming, which includes personal safety training and educating children about best practices for handling firearms.
Sen. Blake Doriot shared how the education had made a difference in his son’s life, saying he safely unloaded an unsecured rifle at a neighbor’s house.
“That safety that he learned from the NRA could have saved someone’s life from a terrible accident,” Doriot, R-Goshen, said. “This is a wonderful group doing good things.”
Two Republicans didn’t sign the resolution – Sens. Chip Perfect of Lawrenceburg and Greg Walker of Columbus. No Democrats signed it.
While no Democrats spoke, Minority Leader Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, quickly sent a statement saying “Our neighbors are still in mourning, and we’re honoring an organization that has played a central role in preventing the adoption of common-sense gun safety laws across the nation.
“I think it would be more appropriate to recognize organizations like Moms Demand Action, which have fought tooth and nail trying to protect kids from the leading cause of death among young people in our nation: firearms.”
Several volunteers from Moms Demand Action were in the Senate gallery.
Two Black Tennessee representatives were ousted from their General Assembly after disrupting chamber “decorum” during a student-led rally for gun control. A third white representative narrowly survived expulsion by a single vote.
Gun control advocates say the proliferation of firearms in America contributes to the high death toll while defenders, including those from the NRA, blame poor mental health outcomes. Per capita gun ownership in the United States is the highest in the world at 120 firearms per 100 people, double that of the next country – Yemen, a country in the midst of a civil war, has an estimated 52.8 guns per resident.
Roughly 15 minutes after the resolution was passed on a voice vote, Taylor, D-Indianapolis, spoke on the floor. He said Democrats listened to the resolution to show that they respected Senate decorum.
“I take this opportunity to respectfully challenge us to start thinking about common-sense gun legislation. We can also celebrate those organizations that… protect everyone’s right to carry,” Taylor said. “We can still have both.”
Taylor said “we’ve seen things happen” in bordering states and noted that a fatal shooting had just occurred hours before the resolution in Washington D.C. He also highlighted Democrat efforts to instill universal background checks and safe storage requirements, which have failed in previous years.
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