Editor’s Note: Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, is responding to a column written by Lesley Weidenbener, executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, which published in The Republic on March 27.
As the legislator recently accused of bullying and browbeating a person who gave testimony during a committee hearing, I want to give my side of the story.
I completely respect and appreciate people giving testimony on subjects and highly encourage them to do so. However, testimony should be based on facts, not misinformation. Shannon Watts, founder of Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense, recently gave testimony against Senate Bill 229, which would allow lawfully carried firearms to be stored in a vehicle on school property.
In an article on March 27, Leslie Weidenbener accused me of bullying and browbeating Watts during her testimony. I disagree with this accusation.
During the hearing, I asked Watts if her group was associated with Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and she acknowledged it was. I asked her about her prior positions as director, president or vice president of communications at Monsanto, GE Healthcare, WellPoint and VoxPop Public Relations, and she acknowledged she had been.
I asked her if information could be manipulated to reach any conclusion desired, and she acknowledged that it could.
After Watts presented numbers that I disagreed with, I did challenge her. As an elected official, it is my duty to make laws based on facts. I also feel a responsibility to my constituents to correct misinformation when I know it to be false. I presented her with the facts that I had with me, facts that were printed from the FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Justice.
When she stated that a vast number of criminals got their guns from gun shows, I presented her with a DOJ report showing that fewer than
2 percent of criminals got their guns at gun shows.
She stated that firearms were a leading killer of children. I presented that in 2010, according to the CDC, there were 36 children under 10 years old that were killed with firearms compared with 609 drowning deaths. I also presented that, according to the FBI, 80 percent of all gun homicides were gang- or drug-related.
When she stated that 50 children have been killed on school property since Sandy Hook, I reminded her that these murders took place in a supposedly safe Gun Free Zone. She incredulously stated she was not familiar with what a Gun Free Zone meant.
I presented that, while every death is tragic, there have been approximately 200 documented school shooting homicides since 1986 compared with approximately 60 million deaths during that 28-year time frame and that, statistically, school shootings are incredibly rare. To put this in perspective, approximately 55 people are killed each year by lightning strikes.
SB229 was being presented as allowing guns on school buses. This misinformation was corrected by reading the actual law.
Watts stated that there have been no mass shootings stopped by armed citizens. I presented facts that there have been many times, with two armed citizens in a Gary senior center recently stopping a mass shooting. One of the sheriffs attending the hearing voluntarily agreed with me afterward.
Watts has accused me publicly of being in the pocket of the NRA. I am not. I share the same belief, along with 5 million other grass-roots NRA members, that our natural right to self-defense is recognized and protected by the Second Amendment, and by Article 1 Section 32 of our Indiana Constitution as well. I will protect this right.
I feel that I was respectful during the hearing and stand by my statements.
Jim Lucas is the state representative for House District 69, which represents parts of Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Jefferson counties.