There’s No Reason for Indiana Statehouse Campus to be a ‘Gun-Free Zone’

In “pro-Second Amendment,” Republican-dominated Indiana...? (Photo: Maureen Codrea)
In “pro-Second Amendment,” Republican-dominated Indiana…? (Photo: Maureen Codrea)

U.S.A. — On the east side of the Indiana Statehouse is a grand statue of “War Governor” Oliver P. Morton, commissioned by the General Assembly and installed in 1907. Standing atop a marble pedestal, the governor is flanked by two resolute Union soldiers, both on perpetual guard with bayoneted rifles.

To the statue’s left is a historical marker, a sign commemorating that the site also served as the state’s Civil War Arsenal from 1861 to 1864. But directly in front of the statue is another sign, this one newer and of considerably less material and design quality, an ugly thing made of street sign metal bolted to an adjustable height post anchored in an even uglier scuffed and stained yellow l base. Ugliest of all is the message on the sign:

“Weapons and destructive devices prohibited on the Indiana Government Center Campus 25 IAC 8-3-1”

That would have been useful information for my wife and me to have been aware of on April 15 after parking north of the campus and crossing its parking lot on our walk to the NRA Annual Meeting a couple of blocks away at the Indiana Convention Center. It’s fair to wonder how many attendees carrying openly and concealed walked right past that sign – and a companion one I posed in front of at the corner of the campus at Washington St. (with both feet on the Statehouse side of the property line, incidentally.)

I bring it up because one of the events I attended was the NRA-ILA 2023 Political Update, featuring key legislators in the State Senate and House of Representatives responsible for bringing permitless carry to the Hoosier State. They were literally surrounded by members carrying guns and were the first to assure us that they not only felt safe, they knew they were safe. (We all were. The only ones I wasn’t sure about were the sign-waving lunatics across the street calling us “terrorists” and accusing us of being responsible for slaughtered children.)

That leads to the logical question of why the politicians would be safe when outnumbered by gun owners on one side of an artificial property line, and wouldn’t be if those same gun owners took one step over it, where they would find themselves in violation of the law?

“Sec. 1. No person in possession of a deadly weapon… shall be permitted into or permitted to remain in the Indiana government center campus.”

It says “into” and “in.”  The signs say “on,” and they’re placed where they’re seen before anyone steps on the campus (unless you enter from the north parking lot as I did, where there was no sign). But wait, as the infomercials say. There’s more!

“(4) “Indiana government center campus” means the following… (G) The land adjacent to these buildings that is owned and controlled by the state.”

With the Indiana Legislature dominated by Republicans – and with enough “pro-Second Amendment” ones to pass open and permitless carry – there’s no legitimate or even political reason why the entire campus should be off limits.

Actually, if anyone wants to talk to Philip Van Cleave over at Virginia Citizens Defense League, he’ll be able to show them how armed citizens used to visit peaceably with legislators inside the Capitol every year on Lobby Day (until hoplophobe Democrats banned the practice) and never once did they cause a problem. But for now, acknowledging the firearms prohibitionist lobby scores successes toward its end goal incrementally, clarifying rules on the surrounding property, and making sure any armed citizen stepping on the lawn isn’t a violator subject to arrest will be a step in the right direction.

Because as things stand now, with that sign in front of the statue of Gov. Morton and the soldiers, the message it conveys is:

“The right of the government to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  The people, not so much.”

You can do better, Indiana Republicans.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

David Codrea