Holding signs protesting against gun violence and for gun reforms, people in and around Muncie joined the nationwide August Recess Rally.

Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, two organizations campaigning against gun violence, hosted a rally calling for common sense gun reform 11 a.m. Saturday near the steps of the David Owsley Museum of Art facing the Quad. 

Moore said this rally is in conjunction with a targeted ad campaign entirely directed at senators to return and pass common sense gun reforms — specifically a federal red flag law and closing background check loopholes through House Resolution 8 - Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019

H.R. 8 is a bill that establishes new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties which specifically prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties. Exceptions are to be made when a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. 

The bill passed the U.S. House 240-190 Feb. 27 and has reached the U.S. Senate and has thus far been read twice and placed on its legislative calendar.

Moore said Moms Demand Action calls for senators to end their August recess early and return to the Senate.

“I think that we have experienced a lot of gun violence locally,” Moore said, giving the Noblesville Middle School shooting, the incident outside Muncie Central High School and the house party shooting incident over the summer as examples.

She said with most of the university population not at Ball State over the summer, it is easy to think these incidents happen elsewhere.

Moore said she was optimistic about the two pieces of legislation passing successfully.

“It used to be they didn’t want to take a position because it would hurt them politically. I think not taking a position now hurts them politically,” Moore said.

Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler said his biggest fear is a child being afraid to attend school one day.

He questioned how it was possible to expect children, especially those who require assistance and functional needs classrooms, to attend school, relax and learn when schools are equipped with metal detectors and armed security.

Tyler said he didn’t believe the suspects in the two recent shooting incidents in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, were mentally ill, adding that the suspect in the El Paso incident “had a plan that was full of hate and racism.”

“Our country is being overrun with racism and gun violence,” Tyler said. “Changes have to come.”

He said there was no litmus test to determine if someone was mentally ill, adding that mental illness was not the issue.

“The issue is there’s too darn many guns,” Tyler said. 

State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) said despite calls of “do something” from people about gun reforms, “we’re not doing something as a country.”

“Now is the time to change that and you being here is starting to change that,” Errington said. “Words thoughts and prayers — they’re good, but they’re not enough. It’s time to take action.”

She said because legislators are up for reelection next year, “it’s not too early to start asking legislators ‘where do you stand?’” Errington said she stands with the people gathered at the rally. 

Olivia Carlstedt, president of Students Demand Action, said her younger brother and sister were among those who were at school during the Noblesville Middle School shooting incident in 2018. 

Carlstedt said it terrifies her that an incident like that would happen in a place like Noblesville. 

“It’s a generally nice place, but the fact that it’s now marred by a shooting like that is absolutely horrendous,” she said. 

Jorgena Watson, a Ball State 1976 alumna, and her husband Mark Watson, a 1975 alumnus and former Indiana Academy faculty member, came from New Castle, Indiana, to be present at the rally. 

“What happens with gun legislation in this state and at the federal level are very important,” Jorgena said. “It has to do with kids, and I taught for 38 years and that concern doesn’t change.” 

She said when she was in college, people owned guns to hunt, but that isn’t the case with society today. 

“This is not about hunting, except it’s about hunting people many times,” Jorgena said. “Society has changed and their attitude about guns has really gotten quite radical.”

Mark said he was convinced that “bullets punch holes into people,” adding some of the firearms today are designed as “weapons of war” to do the same.

The rally included speeches and a poem from other members of the organizations impacted by gun violence and concluded with a rally chant.

Contact Sophie Carson with comments at secarson@bsu.edu. Contact Rohith Rao with comments at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.