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Monday, May 27, 2024

Indiana’s children need gun reform before it’s too late 

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I am a long-time resident of this great Hoosier state, born and raised here in Indianapolis. Too often, I read the names of students from Indianapolis public schools, not because of their academic achievements, but their premature deaths due to guns. I have learned of similar stories across the state, where too many members of our communities are lost and harmed by gun violence. These are not isolated incidents; the data shows that the problem of gun violence is only growing: 

  • In Indiana, the rate of gun deaths grew 51% and the rate of homicides grew 93% between 2012 and 2021
  • Guns are the leading cause of death in teens and children in Indiana, and 64% of those deaths are homicides.
  • 79% of all homicides in Indiana involved a gun.

I have worked in my professional career to help people from many different backgrounds and life experiences work through the trauma of gun violence. More of our community, and too many of our children, are forced to face the reality of unchecked gun violence everyday, leaving physical and mental scars. I have worked to help my community as a psychologist, but my experiences compel me to fight for broader, more effective change.

As a psychologist, I look at the research to find evidence-driven solutions. Regulation of guns is the solution, and a majority of Americans agree that stricter gun laws are needed. First, we must make it more difficult for teens and young adults to get ahold of guns. There is a spike in mass shootings among young men ages 15-25, and a majority of mass shooters exhibited multiple signs of crisis. The mental health of our teenagers and young adults, particularly men, is at a crossroads at this age. For example, this is also the age range where schizophrenia is likely to begin presentation in young men. To this end, I fully support passing legislation that sets additional precautions and regulations for gun ownership in this group, including extra approvals required by mental health professionals. 

We must not stop at just restricting access to all weapons, but particularly assault weapons. An outright ban on assault weapons will never work, or receive broad support, but we must recognize that assault weapons are used in mass shooting events more so than most other gun violence events.8 This restriction, without an outright ban, can be accomplished by drafting legislation providing gun licenses based on skill. We do this already for driving: you start with a learners permit and you take a test to get your driver’s license, and if you want to drive semi-trucks, buses, or motorcycles you must gain additional training and licensure. Graduating licensing based on the level of weapon will allow us to restrict the access of these weapons from those most likely to do harm, while providing a path to legal ownership for those who are passionate gun owners. Our constitution was written during a time when the average rifle could only be shot a 3-6 times a minute, while the modern AR-15 can fire 45 rounds per minute. The writers of the constitution understood there were limits to its application and that it would need to be modified, and this is an area that must be modified to solve the problems of today’s Americans. 

A majority of Americans own guns, gun ownership is a point of pride for many, and provides a sense of protection for even more.6 For rural Americans in particular, gun ownership is directly tied to their sense of freedom. We must recognize the unconscionable reality that too many Hoosier families are forced to face: guns are killing more and more of our children every year. 

We must act.

We must pass legislation that reforms our gun laws. Hoosiers have the right to exist safely in public spaces, and we must pass gun reform laws to this end. I look forward to learning the names and faces of the youth in my community through the joy and celebration of their successes, not their deaths. I will fight to enact the change needed, but until then I will continue to help those left in the unyielding wake of gun violence.

To contact Dr. Valerie McCray, visit valeriemccray.org or email info@valeriemccray.org.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Okay, first off, since we had firearms and less criminal violence 50 years ago, it is THE SOCIETY that is sick, guns are merely the tools. TWO, you won’t do anything but disarm legal weapon owners while the black market will simply fill in the void for the criminals. THREE, it’s “criminal violence”, NO “gun violence, since guns do not pull their own triggers – call it as REALITY is, not what liberals wish it was. Try going overseas sometime, and you’ll find that most Americans are insulated from reality of life. FOUR, since liberalism killed stable American family structure, try looking in the mirror as to how to stop people from BECOMING criminals first and foremost – as in bring back morals and sanctity of life FIRST. Lastly, “The writers of the constitution understood there were limits to its application and that it would need to be modified, and this is an area that must be modified to solve the problems of today’s Americans.” – Wrong. Ever read the Federalist Papers? Debates of the Anti-Federalists? Probably not. The main idea of Founders like George Mason was to make sure people could be equally armed AS the government to prevent a tyranny from happening, but you people will proel one into existence while crime still goes on, just as it did in the old Soviet Union – gun control and regulation NEVER works. Incarceration and execution of criminals DOES.

  2. Suicide counts for most gun deaths and the next leader is inner city youth gang violence. Stop blaming inanimate objects. We already have thousands upon thousands of laws regarding firearms. Adding a few more isn’t going to change anything. Try reading the constitution. It is very simple to understand. Shall not be infringed.

  3. Seeing articles like this with phrasing that incites a reaction on a purely emotional level is very frustrating. I was glad to see at least a bit concerning mental health care being looked into. We’ve seen stricter gun laws inacted in other states and their “gun” violence stats just increase as their laws become stricter. I’m a veteran and have lived in Northern Indiana practically all my life. I’ve seen violence across the world through the Army and around me in my civilian life. Placing more restrictions to gun laws won’t work. How many of this incidents were caused by actual legal gun ownership and how many were purchased illegally? Criminals don’t care about “gun- free” zones, in fact, these are the places they choose to target when wanting to cause death, pain, and panic. It’s actually documented that people intent on committing a crime will choose a target that there is less of a possibility they’ll encounter resistance. One of the last school shootings, the preparatory actually chose a different location because their first choice was what we call in the military a “hard target.” Don’t even get me started on the information regarding so called assault weapons. AR-15s are not used in most gun violence, more people are killed by hammers and knives per a year than this rifle. It’s a semi automatic weapon so you can only fire as many rounds for as fast as you can pull the trigger. It’s actually easier with a handgun than an AR, without modifications. Do I believe anyone that owns a gun should practice handling it, definitely. Do I believe the government, whether local, state, or federal, should be involved in deciding who’s trained and who isn’t, most definitely not. Our founding fathers when drafting the constitution did not do so thinking that weapons would not continue to advance, the 2nd amendment was placed so that our government would not be inclined to become tyrannical. So that the people could have the ability to defend themselves against all enemies foreign and domestic. This issue is not about the gun, it’s about people, and taking away or placing more restrictions on guns is not going to cure that but turn out cities into areas like Chicago and such. Don’t let fear and emotion to cloud your judgement and allow them to start taking more rights. By giving in little by little they’ll take more and more until were slaves to their rule.

  4. Same old story…….blame the gun when NO gun kills unless the trigger is pulled by a human. One thing that our civilization will be known for is the stupidity that surrounds our total insane philosophy about human behavior. When will we get back to the realization that there are irresponsible, no good individuals that are evil in our world—-who do not respect themselves nor anyone else—-that require punishment???!!!!! And our legal system has now adopted a philosophy and behavior that encourages criminality. Aynn Rand wrote that when the laws become supportive of the criminal enterprise and no longer protect the civilians who are law-abiding, then the civilization is lost——and we are currently living it. Face it, Buttercups, we are exemplary of a civilization that has gone insane with no moral code to live by—and right is now wrong and wrong is right—and the sands of time are running out for our survival. If you do not agree, that is your prerogative—-but you are blind to truth, reality, and fact—-and have become part of the problem. And unfortunately, this article carries with it the same old tired rhetoric which misses the boat. I have lived a long time and have witnessed the total disregard for law-enforcement that has been encouraged in this failing civilization, and no amount of psychology is going to cure the rampage into darkness that we are experiencing…..and if you do not believe that, study history……wherein the answers lie.

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