Columbus to have March for Our Lives rally

Columbus is one of six Indiana communities taking part in the national March For Our Lives event, with marchers demanding that state or federal lawmakers take action to stop the increasing wave of mass shootings throughout the United States.

“We are tired of seeing babies slaughtered inside of their classrooms and gun violence everywhere,” March For Our Lives co-organizer Dawn Sherfield said. “We are tired of our leaders not acting. We need action now!”

Co-sponsored by Columbus Area Moms Demand Action, which is Sherfield’s organization and the Bartholomew County Democratic Women, March For Our Lives will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The march will begin at Columbus City Hall in downtown Columbus.

Organizers are seeking teens and young adults willing to speak on their experiences with gun violence, active shooter drills and other related experiences, she said.

As of June 2, marches in Indiana are planned in Evansville, South Bend, Bloomington, West Lafayette, Fort Wayne and Columbus. Other communities may join from now until the event, organizers stated on social media.

Marches across the country will be staged less than a month after Payton Gendron, 18, was charged with fatally shooting 10 African-American shoppers at a Buffalo, New York supermarket due to their ethnicity, investigators said.

Ten days later, Salvador Ramos allegedly killed 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school with two AR-style rifles purchased from a federally licensed gun dealer. Ramos had turned 18 just days before the shooting.

Gun advocates ofter blame mental illness for mass shootings. However, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb recently said he doesn’t think state lawmakers will take further steps to restrict Hoosiers’ ability to purchase weapons based on mental health issues.

In Sherfield’s opinion, gun enthusiasts aren’t really interested in debating these issues.

“They are just coming up with excuses in an effort to dismiss the other side,” Sherfield said. “It’s just mind-boggling.”

On July 1, Indiana’s permit requirement to openly carry a handgun will no longer exist, which was approved by the Indiana General Assembly over strong objections from law enforcement.

The new law repeals the need for a permit to carry a handgun in Indiana and people who are not restricted from possessing or carrying a handgun do not need to obtain a permit from the state to do so, according to the law. The bill was co-authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus.

Republican Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, joined nine Senate Republicans and all 11 Democratic senators in voting against the bill in the Senate.

District 69 State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, also was a co-author of the bill and said getting the “constitutional carry” law passed was a top priority of his since being elected into office in 2012.

Sherfield warned many Hoosiers are not going to continue to quietly sit by as more children die in future mass shootings.

“Your right to own a weapon should never trump the right of someone else to live,” Sherfield said. “If our leaders don’t start taking action, there will be complete and total unrest and chaos in this country.”