Democrats laud gun safety groups on heels of NRA honoring, convention

Gun Rights

Indiana Senate Democrats honored two gun safety groups on the chamber’s floor Wednesday, less than a week after their Republican counterparts honored the National Rifle Association — and days after the controversial organization’s annual convention in Indianapolis.

Democrats lauded Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, organizations that organize to end gun violence. Shannon Watts founded the former after 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, which left 20 young children and six educators dead.

“We are in a gun violence epidemic, and it’s vital that we take action to protect the lives of our residents and children. Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Senate minority leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said in a statement.

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“That’s why it’s such an honor to celebrate organizations like Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, who have been unwavering in their fight for common-sense gun safety legislation to combat the senseless and preventable violence that we’ve seen rising,” he added. “Their advocacy for life-saving policies that are proven to reduce gun violence is critical, and my caucus is appreciative of their efforts and dedication.”

More than 1,000 people die by gun in Indiana annually on average, according to Everytown for Gun Safety —  parent organization for the moms and student groups. That’s 16.1 gun deaths per 100,000 people, based on 2018-2021 data.

The state’s gun fatality rate has trended upward 2012-2021, rising 51%. Some of the increase was in suicides — more than half of Indiana’s annual gun deaths — but the majority was in gun homicides.

“I think all of us collectively agree that we want safer communities. We want our kids to enjoy their educational experiences,” said Sen. Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, after reading the honoring resolution aloud. “We want people to go to public facilities, parks and feel that they’re enjoying their life without the threat of violent crimes.”

“I appreciate all of my colleagues for your civility and respect,” he added.

Senate Republicans sat quietly for the resolution and subsequent remarks.

Democrats drew criticism from supporters when they did not protest last week’s NRA resolution, during which Republicans lauded the organization and Wayne LaPierre, its embattled executive vice president and CEO. Taylor said at the time that Democrats wanted to show respect for Senate decorum.

The NRA said more than 77,000 people attended its annual convention in Indianapolis last weekend. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, one-time Vice President and former Gov. Mike Pence, and U.S. Sen. Mike Braun all spoke —  as did former President Donald Trump.

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