Pence: School safety, not gun laws, key to preventing gun violence in Indiana schools

Pence deflected question about arming teachers

INDIANAPOLIS - Incoming Gov. Mike Pence said Indiana’s school safety measures -- not the state’s gun laws -- need a careful review in the wake of last week’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

“This is not about access to guns. It’s about access to schools,” the Republican said Wednesday as he introduced a new slate of members of his senior staff and cabinet.

He called the slaying of 20 children and six staff members in Newtown, Conn., “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

He said he will ask the state legislature to set aside money for an in-depth look at how school safety should be handled.

Meanwhile, when asked about specific gun control measures, Pence said Indiana’s gun laws are already strong enough.

He cited bans on violent felons and those convicted of domestic battery from owning firearms, and said procedures already exist to keep guns out of the hands of Hoosiers with untreated mental illnesses and those who are violent or emotionally unstable.

“I support the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, and as governor, I’ll defend that right,” Pence said.

State lawmakers in 2011 approved a measure that allows Hoosiers to carry their guns into most public areas, including libraries, city halls and zoos, but schools were not included. Pence deflected a question Wednesday about whether teachers should be armed.

“I think it’s important that we all as a state take time to grieve,” he said.

Included in the spending plan he presents to state lawmakers when their four-month, budget-writing legislative session kicks off in January, Pence said, will be “a specific request for resources for a comprehensive review of school safety.”

He said Indiana already requires each school “to have a trained and certified school safety specialist on site, as well as school safety policies in place,” and that the state also has a training academy for those safety specialists.

“In this regard, Indiana has been distinguished. We’re proud of that. But we look forward to examining ways we can build on that,” Pence said.

He introduced Doug Carter, the former Hamilton County sheriff and 18-year Indiana State Police trooper, as his new state police superintendent on Wednesday.

Carter said he will immediately study Indiana’s gun laws and its school safety regulations to see if there are problems that need to be addressed.

“I can’t stand up here and tell you what’s right with the system or what’s wrong with the system, but I can tell you, in very short order I’ll be able to,” he said.

Outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose term ends Jan. 14, addressed the Connecticut slayings during a speech Tuesday at the Indianapolis Rotary Club.

He said many Indiana schools already have armed security officers, and that the Newtown school where last week’s shootings took place was “not inattentive” and “had taken a lot of steps” to prevent violence.

“When someone is determined to do something as monstrous as that, I don’t know exactly how much money you would have to spend and what kind of precautions you could take to ever have a fail-safe system,” Daniels said.
 

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