Home rule for gun issues, too

(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton want other Hoosier mayors to join them in lobbying the General Assembly next session for a little help with gun ordinances.

What they want is some moderation in the state’s gun ordinance restrictions. Under a law passed by the legislature in 2011, mayors and local councils are prohibited from passing even minimal ordinances at the town and city level to restrict the display of firearms in public. All gun control comes from the state, so cities can’t ban guns in, say, parks or public pools, nor can they put new limits on gun deals or gun shows.

Fine, we say. Give local officials the ability to enact their own gun control laws.

That doesn’t mean we think most cities will enact good gun laws. The mayors are now talking about “common sense” gun control laws, which is a phrase that can be defined broadly enough to apply to just about anything.

Mostly, officials want to try to pit “the right to bear arms” against the “right to be safe” by arguing that guns shouldn’t be allowed in certain settings. Such restrictions defy logic. Arguments for and against carrying arms are the same no matter what the setting is.

But officials have the right to make bad decisions. If home rule is to mean anything, mayors and council members must be free to make decisions for their constituents based on input from those constituents. And sometimes they will make the wrong decision. We have long argued for local control of taxes, even though we recognize the danger of public officials getting tax-and-spend fever.

The thing is that if a city gets something wrong, whether on guns or taxes or anything else, it will be much easier for voters to kick the miserable scoundrels out of office. The higher up the political food chain we go, the harder it is to hold our public servants accountable.

Hoosiers should have the right to decide how they want to live and under what rules and conditions, and the more local control the better. We know what is best for us, and those in other cities and counties know what is best for them. The state doesn’t know what is best for anybody, but it keeps making the decisions that affect us all.

We’ll never get as much home rule from the state as we want, but we should demand more than we have.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.