Lynn Hale, co lead of the Muncie Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, speaks at the Muncie City Council meeting July 1, 2019, at Muncie City Hall. The council passed a resolution 8-0 encouraging stricter background checks. Rohith Rao, DN
Muncie City Council passes resolution encouraging tighter background checks in gun purchases
For Mary Moore, it was after seeing a man lying on the ground near her house after being shot by her neighbor. For Lynn Hale, it was after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. For Pam Taylor, it was something more personal — the death of her son.
“My son died by suicide using a handgun,” Taylor said. “He was a licensed mental health counsellor and he helped so many people but couldn’t help himself.”
Since the incidents, the three women joined Muncie’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, where they currently serve as co leads. The organization has been working for over a year to gain support for a city council resolution on gun violence prevention.
Muncie City Council passed a resolution 8-0 Monday “encouraging passage of legislation to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals, domestic abusers and severely mentally ill persons by closing the loopholes in the federal background check system.”
“It’s merely calling attention to the fact that we all need to be involved in preventing gun violence where we can,” said Councilwoman Linda Gregory who sponsored the resolution. “This is one thing we can do to prevent gun violence, by drawing attention to it.”
Since the passage of the resolution, Hale said Muncie now joins other municipalities in Indiana that have passed similar resolutions: West Lafayette, Valparaiso, Highland, Lake County, South Bend, Bloomington and Indianapolis’ Marion County City Council which passed a resolution declaring gun violence a "public-health danger.”
Moore noted that while the resolution doesn’t change policy, it would reaffirm the commitment of the members of the city council that they “aren’t going to stand by the sidelines” but rather “help this community and other communities in gun violence.”
“Gun violence is truly and American problem, it’s an Indiana problem and sadly this summer has reminded us it’s a Muncie problem,” Moore said. “Support for the second amendment goes hand in hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous people.”
State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) prior to the vote said she would be proud to see the council vote “Yes” on the resolution and that “things are changing at the Statehouse.”
“Up until last year issues such as background checks were hardly ever brought forward as a bill and certainly not brought into consideration,” Errington said. “However, because citizens and communities are beginning to raise public awareness … I believe it’s making a difference.”
Jagdish Khubchandani, associate chair and associate professor of health science who has conducted studies on gun violence in the United States, said the proposal was “a good first start.”
“Proposals have to start somewhere, especially in a state like Indiana [where] it's sometimes difficult given the political and social climate,” Khubchandani said.
He credited activists “who come up with different types of proposals and push it through the political warehouse because politicians have a lot on their mind.”
“At least in the states that have been successful and have sensible gun laws, it’s always the citizens who are at the forefront telling politicians what to do, how to do and what’s a good way to do stuff,” he said.
While pleased with the resolution, he noted that this was the first step to solving issues related to gun violence.
“If we have to reach from A to Z, this is that A,” Khubchandani said. “To reach to the Z level we will have to have a continuous group of supporters, advocates, activists who are dedicated selflessly and gradually bring about some changes in Muncie.”
He said he was hopeful about action on the issue “given that [Muncie] has university-community partnership.”
“We have a good start for sure. How we translate it into action, we will have to choose some group leaders who become our voices,” Khubchandani said. “Much of it is communication and engagement of people.”