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Recent Incidents of Gun Violence Across Indiana, Including the Killing of Violence Interrupter, Youth Football Coach Richard Donnell Hamilton, Highlight Need for Gun Safety Measures Across the State and Danger of Indiana’s Unpopular Permitless Carry Legislation


Recent incidents of gun violence have highlighted the need for passing gun violence prevention laws in Indiana. These incidents include the killing of Richard Donnell Hamilton, a 43-year-old father who dedicated his life to steering children out of the path of violence. Hamilton was shot dead last week in Greenwood, Indiana. He was the founder of the Indy Steelers youth football team in Indianapolis. He started with a simple motto: mute the echoes of gun violence so children can learn a better way.

Communities across the country were also shocked this weekend by viral video footage of a toddler in diapers wandering around with a loaded handgun in an apartment complex in Beech Grove, Indiana. According to police reports, the toddler’s father, after claiming he didn’t have a gun, is now in custody. Indiana does not have any secure firearm storage legislation that could have mitigated the risk of this toddler potentially hurting himself or others. Indiana Democrats plan to introduce a secure storage bill during this legislative session. 

Indiana is no stranger to gun violence, and in a state where an average of over 1,000 people are killed by guns each year, lawmakers have passed reckless legislation that puts more people in danger. Last year, despite widespread opposition from law enforcement and public safety advocates, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed HB 1296, a permitless carry bill that eliminated Indiana’s permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public. The law allows people to have easy access to guns without a background check or safety training. Referencing the potential increase in gun violence following permitless carry going into law, this summer, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor said, “we’re probably going to see an increase in gun violence because people feel emboldened about having a weapon on their side.” For cities like Indianapolis, which surpassed 200 murders for the third year in a row in 2022, weakening gun laws may put even more people in danger. 

According to the Everytown Support Fund’s “Gun Law Rankings” for 2023, an online tool and website that ranks all 50 states based on their strength of gun laws and shows the direct correlation between a state’s gun laws and the state’s rate of gun deaths, Indiana ranks in the bottom half of states across the country, dropping down several rankings this year after passing dangerous permitless firearm carry legislation. 

As the Indiana legislature convenes for their 2023 legislative session, lawmakers must prioritize common sense gun safety measures. The state lacks many of the foundational gun safety laws, including background checks for all firearm sales and concealed firearm carry permitting. Indiana also lacks any secure firearm storage requirements, which may have prevented a toddler being able to stroll around with a loaded handgun. This legislative session, lawmakers should also prioritize passing these critical gun violence prevention measures and securing funding for life-saving community violence intervention programs.  

Here’s what you need to know about gun violence in Indiana:

  • In an average year, 1,021 people die and 1,512 are wounded by guns in Indiana.
  • Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Indiana, and an average of 110 children and teens die by guns every year, of which 31% are suicides and 63% are homicides.
  • Communities of color disproportionately bear the burden of our country’s gun violence crisis every single day. Black people in Indiana are 14 times more likely than white people to die by gun homicide. 
  • In Indiana, 58% of gun deaths are suicide and 39% are homicides. This is compared to 59% and 39% nationwide, respectively. 
  • Gun violence in Indiana costs $1,964 per person each year. Gun deaths and injuries cost Indiana $13.2 billion each year, of which $293.1 million is paid by taxpayers.

More information about gun violence in Indiana is available here.