Plan to turn Indianapolis neighborhood into "gun-free zone" not off to a great start

Mark Humphrey

When we reported yesterday on Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett’s big idea to turn the city’s Broad Ripple neighborhood into a giant gun-free zone every weekend, we noted there were some major problems with the proposal from both a legal and practical perspective. Indiana’s firearm preemption law doesn’t allow cities to adopt their own local gun control ordinances, for one thing, but it’s also nigh near impossible to lock down an entire neighborhood and secure every entry point with metal detectors and armed police.


Those hoping to create that “gun-free zone” are now starting to understand the problems with their plan, even if they still don’t get why it’s so off-base to begin with.

“We’ll try anything to help out this situation,” said Jordan Dillon.

The executive director of the Broad Ripple Village Association emphasized the word anything.

During a noon interview along Broad Ripple Avenue, Dillon was standing a short distance from the scene of an early Sunday morning shooting that killed three people and wounded another.

“We want to fix this fast as possible because we don’t want to have to go another weekend of what we had,” lamented Dillon.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration has offered a possible solution: turn at least part of the popular neighborhood into a ‘Gun Free Zone’ on weekends.

Hogsett announced the program in May to make event venues more secure, with beefed-up policing, limiting entrances/exits and use of new metal detecting technology.

It was used for the very first time earlier this month at the WonderRoad Music Festival. The two-day affair was held at the city’s Garfield Park. The layout of the Broad Ripple neighborhood is much different. It’s a business and residential integrated neighborhood with lots of public streets, sidewalks and blocks packed with businesses with multiple doors.

How do you set up a temporary, and recurring, secure perimeter in that setting?

Dillon admitted it’s a significant challenge.

“Those are the questions we’ve asked the city as well,” Dillon said. “If they think this program will work in this area, we need some help in figuring out how it’s going to work in this area.”


I don’t believe Hogsett has any clue whether or not it would be logistically feasible to lock down an entire neighborhood every weekend in the hopes of keeping guns away. He’s using this as another excuse to bash the state’s firearm preemption law, which keeps cities like Indianapolis from imposing all kinds of anti-gun restrictions on residents. Hogsett and the Indianapolis city council are in the process of passing several unenforceable ordinances that would raise the age to own a firearm, ban modern sporting rifles, and require concealed carry licenses for those bearing arms inside the city limits; none of which can take effect unless the state legislature repeals the preemption law. His call for a “gun-free zone” sounds like just another opportunity to criticize lawmakers for not letting the city impose supposedly “reasonable” restrictions on lawful gun owners instead of actually focusing on the violent offenders who are driving crime in the city.

If Hogsett and the Indianapolis police actually do come up with a plan to turn the Broad Ripple neighborhood into a giant “gun-free zone”, Second Amendment advocates are ready to step in.

State law does not allow local governments to regulate firearms.

Guy Relford, an attorney and gun rights advocate, said the exception to the state law is when a promoter or other coordinator leases city-owned space for a specific event.

The weakness in the plan to put a gun-free zone in Broad Ripple is the lack of a specific event, said Relford.

”Doing Business every weekend in Broad Ripple is not holding an event, like a music festival in Garfield Park,” he said, “and everybody knows that, and I think courts would know that.”

Relford estimates he already has a legal challenge 90% written should the city move ahead with a planned gun-free zone in Broad Ripple.


Hogsett declined to speak with Fox 59 about his plan, but a spokesman for the city says there’ll be an announcement about the proposed firearms prohibition “within days.”

I’m kinda hoping that Hogsett does try to implement this awful idea, because the inevitable legal smackdown to follow would be delicious to see. Forbidding firearms in a neighborhood with plenty of lawful gun owners who live and work there is not only going to run afoul of Indiana state law, but the Supreme Court’s edict about the limited nature of “sensitive places” where guns can be banned as well. Add that to the logistical nightmare of trying to enforce the gun-free edict, and you have a recipe for disaster where criminals are emboldened and responsible citizens are unable to protect themselves… which, to be honest, is exactly the future the anti-gunners want for all of us, not just the residents of the Broad Ripple neighborhood.

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