Photo of Lauer holding AR-15 style rifle becomes campaign conversation


A state legislator who represents Columbus recently posted an image of himself on social media holding an AR-15 style rifle in what he said was indicative of his support of guns rights and small business.

Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, who is seeking re-election in Indiana State House District 59, posted the image on Twitter last week following a visit to Fostech, a Seymour-based gun manufacturer.

Lauer said the company invited him to tour its facility and discuss “inconsistencies coming from our federal regulators,” among other topics. The tweet that accompanied the image stated, “I enjoyed meeting employees and learning a lot during an impressive tour of local manufacturer Fostech, a small business with a large impact in cutting edge defense technology serving both civilians and law enforcement. Thank you! #2ndAmendment #SmallBusinesses.”

When asked about his decision to pose with the weapon, Lauer said, “I’m a strong supporter of our Second Amendment, defending our constitutional rights. I’m also a strong supporter of our small businesses and of all the employees that are working hard every day to put food on the table.”

Lauer’s opponent in the November election, Democratic nominee Ross Thomas, said the image was “out of touch” with most people’s view of gun rights. Thomas has already seized upon the image in campaign material in which he brands Lauer as “extreme” on guns.

“We see the damage that’s done from these kinds of weapons that are not designed for sport and they’re not designed as a practical protector,” Thomas said. “To have that as a symbol of what you think the Second Amendment is about just seems out of touch to me.”

“If he feels that him standing there with an assault rifle makes him look tough, OK,” Thomas said. “I think it makes him look out of touch, and frankly, a little silly. But he can make his own choices.”

In his campaign literature, Thomas also accused Lauer of being disingenuous about his support of police officers.

“Like most politicians, Ryan Lauer claims to “back the blue” and support our police. But in 2022, Lauer supported a new law in Indiana that removed the requirement that those wishing to carry a handgun in public must first pass a background check and obtain a license to carry a handgun. This reckless law was supported by the NRA and gun lobbyists, but opposed by Indiana law enforcement, including the superintendent of the Indiana State Police, who rightly condemned the law for putting police officers at risk.”

Lauer maintains that the message he was trying to convey with the image of himself posing with an AR-15 style rifle was that “we have great people making great products in our community.”

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.