Columbus is one of six Indiana communities participating in the national March For Our Lives event. The protesters are demanding that lawmakers at the federal or state level take action to stop the mounting wave of mass shootings in the United States.
“We’re tired of seeing babies being butchered in their classrooms and gun violence everywhere,” said March For Our Lives co-organizer Dawn Sherfield. “We are fed up with our leaders not acting. We must act now!”
The March For Our Lives is sponsored jointly by Columbus Area Moms Demand Action, a Sherfield organization, and Democratic Women of Bartholomew County Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The march begins at Columbus City Hall in downtown Columbus.
Organizers are looking for teens and young adults who are willing to speak out about their experiences of gun violence, active rifle practice and other related experiences, she said.
Beginning June 2, Indiana marches are planned in Evansville, South Bend, Bloomington, West Lafayette, Fort Wayne and Columbus. Other communities can join from now until the event, organizers said on social media.
Marches across the country will take place less than a month after 18-year-old Payton Gendron was charged with fatally shooting 10 African-American shoppers because of their ethnicity at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, investigators said.
Ten days later, Salvador Ramos allegedly killed 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school with two AR rifles he bought from a state-licensed gun dealer. Ramos had turned 18 a few days before the shooting.
Gun advocates often blame mental illness for mass shootings. However, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb recently said he doesn’t think state lawmakers will take any further steps to limit Hoosiers’ ability to purchase guns due to mental health issues.
In Sherfield’s opinion, gun enthusiasts aren’t really interested in discussing these issues.
“They just make up excuses to fire the other side,” Sherfield said. “It’s just stunning.”
On July 1, Indiana will no longer require a license to openly carry a handgun, which was approved by the Indiana General Assembly despite strong law enforcement objections.
The new law eliminates the need for a permit to carry a handgun in Indiana, and individuals who are not barred from owning or carrying a handgun are not required by law to obtain a permit from the state to do so. The bill was co-authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus.
Republican Senator Greg Walker, R-Columbus, along with nine Senate Republicans and all 11 Democratic senators, voted against the Senate bill.
District 69 State Assemblyman Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, also co-authored the bill and said passing the “constitutional carryover” bill has been a top priority for him since he was elected to office in 2012.
Sherfield warned many Hoosiers that as more children die in future mass shootings, they will not continue to stand by in silence.
“Your right to own a gun should never trump someone else’s right to life,” Sherfield said. “Unless our leaders start acting, there will be utter and utter unrest and chaos in this country.”