Editorial: Lucas exposes himself, again, as unfit to serve

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The (Columbus) Republic

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, once again exposed himself as a representative only of his own narrow interests. Chiefly, his interest is seeking attention. Especially negative attention.

What Lucas did Tuesday — he purposefully flashed a pistol he was concealing to a group of visiting high school students — was unconscionable. Had a friendly hometown judicial system not granted Lucas favor after favor — including just weeks ago shrinking his sentence — what he did also would have been a violation of the terms of his probation for his conviction last year of operating while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.

In light of Lucas’ prolific troubles, particularly given his stabs at contrition and his vows to do better, you might think he would keep a low profile. But Lucas, who moonlights as a social media troll, simply cannot or will not govern himself with dignity, let alone empathy.

Franklin College student journalist Kyra Howard of StatehouseFile.com reported on Lucas’ latest embarrassment of himself and the voters in his district. That includes voters in portions of Bartholomew as well as Jackson and Jennings counties.

“Students from Burris Laboratory School in Muncie who were visiting the Statehouse Tuesday say they felt threatened after (Lucas) opened his coat and flashed a handgun,” Howard wrote.

This might have only been terrible form if not for the context in which Lucas chose to flash his piece. The students were at the Statehouse on Advocacy Day. They were among the thousands of Hoosiers from all over the state who go to Indianapolis on that day to advocate for issues important to them.

These students had traveled to the Capitol to share their concerns about gun violence. As Americans, they are entitled under the First Amendment to do so. Lucas ought to respect that. He also ought to have listened respectfully, even if he disagreed.

Yet this is how Lucas chose to treat these young Hoosiers, people he represents, at least in theory:

“When the students encountered Lucas on an elevator in the Statehouse, he struck up a conversation and asked them why they were at the legislature. The students responded they were there to talk to lawmakers about their concerns about guns. Lucas subsequently invited the group to ‘step outside and have a quick’ conversation about the issue,” Howard wrote.

“… A video made by one of the students … captures Lucas, the students and a parent chaperone, Alison Case, discussing gun laws and school shootings. A few minutes into the discussion, Lucas flashed his gun to the teenagers by lifting his blazer. … ‘I’m carrying right now,’ Lucas told the group.”

Students said they felt threatened, but they also felt disrespected and disillusioned. Still, they tried to get through to Lucas how our uniquely American plague of gun violence has affected them. Lucas, Howard wrote, “abruptly ended the conversation and walked away.” Nice.

To be clear, this is not about guns, the Second Amendment, or anyone’s views about gun control. This is about Jim Lucas’ unfitness to serve as a lawmaker. We have editorialized about this before, but Lucas never disappoints. He always manages to find a new low.