Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, took some time out of his busy schedule the other day so he could scare some schoolchildren.
The moment came at a Third House session in Columbus. Lucas, who rolls over and retrieves for the gun industry whenever the National Rifle Association snaps its fingers, was one of the lawmakers in attendance.
The Republic reported that about 60 people were in the crowd at the Third House. Among them were a handful of students from ABC-Stewart School.
One of the students, a sixth grader named Jackson Brewer, asked the lawmakers their thoughts on a proposed new state law that would allow teachers to receive firearms training and permit retired law enforcement officials to carry guns on school property.
In response, Lucas recited his NRA-drafted-and-approved talking points. Gun laws can’t prevent school shootings. Arming teachers can make schools safer. And a federal court has ruled that the police don’t have a duty to protect students while they’re being shot.
As is almost always the case with Lucas, each one of those arguments is either misleading, false or wrenched out of context.
That’s because his priority is protecting guns. If the truth takes a hit in the process, so be it.
For the record, just about every study or survey not paid for by the gun industry shows that violent crime rates tend to be lower in states and countries that have stricter gun laws. There is no evidence that arming teachers will decrease school shootings. And the federal court ruling Lucas refers to says that neither police nor the schools themselves can be held liable for school shootings, just as we cannot sue fire departments for not saving our houses when they burn down.
It was after Lucas ran to the end of his scripted talking points that the weirdness truly began.
The student asked the lawmaker if Lucas thought having more guns around would make students feel safer.
Lucas, The Republic reported, answered “absolutely.”
Then he said, “I’m carrying right now. Does that scare anybody?”
About a third of the people in the room raised their hands. Still others verbally said, “Yes.”
It’s not surprising Lucas was caught off-guard. Because he only listens to people who think exactly the way he does, it doubtless does amaze Lucas that there are people in the world who don’t see a gun as the answer to every problem.
Some of the gun advocacy groups picked up on the story, which gave Lucas a chance to crow, once again, that he had won national attention for “standing up” for Second Amendment rights.
It’s easy to see why he was so pleased with himself.
Those sixth-graders can be a scary bunch. It’s surprising that Lucas didn’t bring an anti-aircraft gun to the Third House event. Some of the paper airplanes elementary school students fashion these days can be positively terrifying.
All this might amount to just another performance of Jim Lucas’s theater of the absurd but for one thing.
His argument is circular and serious.
What he and his NRA brain trust contend is that, because the gun lobby and the gun industry have been so successful at flooding this country with guns, it now is an incredibly dangerous place. Because it is so dangerous, we need still more guns to protect ourselves. This in turn makes the country still more dangerous, so we will need even more guns.
And on and on and on.
It’s the kind of thinking only a gun profiteer or fetishist could love.
To keep that circle expanding, Lucas and his fellow travelers want us — need us — all to be scared.
That’s all the time and that’s everyone.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.