Kokomo Tribune. Dec. 18, 2014.
Adding guns will not help
About 36,000 students nationwide have joined an organization seeking the right to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.
Our hope is the effort will fail — on Capitol Hill and in the state capital, where these students have an ally in Rep. Heath VanNatter of Kokomo.
The group called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus argues students and faculty members who are licensed to carry concealed weapons should be allowed to pack their guns along with their textbooks.
A student at the University of North Texas started the movement after an upperclassman went on a rampage at Virginia Tech, killing 32 people before killing himself. The group's members argue fewer people would have died in that tragedy if any of the students the killer encountered April 16, 2007, had been armed.
They're not campaigning to arm every student on campus. They simply want students who are already licensed to have the right to carry their weapons.
They argue it's not just incidents like the one at Virginia Tech that create concern. The weapons-free regulations on college campuses don't deter the criminals, they say. The regulations simply keep the law-abiding students from protecting themselves.
Prompted by the shooting of a student in an Indiana State University dormitory, some members of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus asked the Student Government Association in October to support their proposal to reverse the school's prohibition on firearms.
Now VanNatter, a Kokomo Republican, plans to co-author a bill to allow carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses this legislative session.
We would argue there are valid reasons for these bans.
Many students on college campuses are away from home for the first time, and they're trying things they've never tried before. Adding guns to the mix can't possibly make the situation less volatile.
And who's to say having more guns at Virginia Tech would have resulted in fewer deaths? Gun control advocates argue the opposite might be true, that more guns might have resulted in even more deaths.
Seven states — Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin — allow students to carry concealed weapons. In states like Indiana, where the decision is left to universities, schools almost always opt against allowing weapons.
We would opt to keep it that way.
The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne. Dec. 17, 2014.
Helping state thrive
Introspection is good for the soul and it's good for the state. So an Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project examining ways to create thriving communities looks like an excellent way to begin our third century.
"Policy Choices for Indiana's Future: Thriving Communities, Thriving State" will use three commissions to study issues affecting the state. Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Shepard and former Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis will lead the project. Shepard and former Gov. Joe Kernan were co-chairmen of the important 2007 local government study, but the new study goes far beyond a single topic.
The project comes from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, where the executive director, R. Mark Lawrance, is building on the work of a previous report examining education and workforce development; energy and the environment; and state and local tax policy. The findings were designed to inform discussion in the 2012 gubernatorial election.
The new study will address those topics and more: health, the arts, amenities and recreation. More important, it will examine the topics from urban, rural and suburban perspectives.
"I don't think anyone in the state has done this kind of segmentation," Lawrance said. "It plays out differently in different-size communities. You can see that in (northeast Indiana)."
Three commissions - one for each population segment - will look for ideas and best practices, with a unique report created for each segment. Legislators will participate, as well as representatives of the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Work should be done in 2016.
Public suggestions will be sought. A session is tentatively scheduled for February in Fort Wayne. Ideas also will be collected at the policy institute's website.
While it's a good idea to reflect on Indiana's history, it's more important to improve the state's future. "Thriving Communities, Thriving State" is a good way to do it.
The Tribune, Seymour. Dec. 17, 2014.
Lawmakers: Listen to Hoosiers' priorities
Before the General Assembly convenes in 2015, here's a bit of required reading for lawmakers.
The 2014 WISH-TV/Ball State University Hoosier Survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research International, asks Indiana residents about their top priorities for state government action during the upcoming legislative session. Results of the seventh annual survey (available at bowencenterforpublicaffairs.org) are delivered to every member of the Indiana General Assembly and top administration officials at the beginning of the calendar year so that lawmakers can gauge public views about issues they are likely to face in the upcoming legislative session.
Among the findings: Job creation is the No. 1 priority, with 78 percent of respondents saying it belongs at the top of the legislative agenda; reducing crime is in second place (69 percent); and improving local schools is in third place (67 percent). Environmental protection and immigration reform finish out the Top 5 issues.
The survey also found widespread support for pre-kindergarten initiatives — beyond the pilot program the General Assembly approved during its last session. While 39 percent support holding on to the state's budget surplus for a rainy day, 31 percent say some of the surplus should be used to fund programs — including education, highways and roads and fire and police — that have been cut in recent years.
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research International during the period from Oct. 7 to 15. Results are based on 600 completed interviews with 360 landline respondents and 240 cellphone respondents (including 120 adults with no landline phone). The margin of error is plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.
While the results are clearly intended to help inform lawmakers, all Hoosiers would do well to check out the survey. And let their representatives know what they expect out of the upcoming session.
South Bend Tribune. Dec. 17, 2014.
ND women make a statement
When the Notre Dame women's basketball team took to the court before Saturday's game with Michigan, the players wanted to make a statement.
Jogging out to the court, the women had replaced their traditional warm-up jackets with black T-shirts with the words "I Can't Breathe" in white lettering. The quote refers to the final words spoken by Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after police put him in a chokehold in July.
Fans who follow the Notre Dame women's basketball team — and it's a passionate group — are used to the Irish making strong statements with their athletic ability. They are much less accustomed to seeing the players make a statement on a social issue that has garnered so much attention.
Clearly, the players felt deeply about this issue and bringing attention to it was supported by the university's administration and the team's coaching staff led by Muffet McGraw, who chose to wear black in support of the players.
To be sure, not everyone agreed with the Irish's statement that day. People took to Twitter, Facebook and wrote letters to the editor arguing that it was not the time or place for such a protest and that by wearing the "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts the move took on an anti-law enforcement feeling.
The player who first broached the T-shirt idea, sophomore Taya Reimer, said that was not the case, that the move was intended to show support for all the families who have lost someone and was not intended to be critical of police.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the fact is we all have a right to exercise our freedom of speech just as the Notre Dame women, who did so responsibly and respectfully.