Indy mayoral candidate says gun owners should "challenge" his thinking on gun control

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Indianapolis mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve has raised eyebrows and drawn a lot of thumbs down from gun owners over his parroting of current mayor Joe Hogsett’s calls to repeal the state’s preemption law and allow cities like Indianapolis to impose their own local gun control restrictions. In fact, the Republican has basically adopted Hogsett’s own recently passed and unenforceable ordinances as his own; calling for a ban on gun sales to adults younger than 21, requiring a concealed carry license inside the Indianapolis city limits, and prohibiting the sale (and perhaps even the possession) of so-called assault weapons.

Shreve maintains that there’s a substantial difference between himself and Hogsett, despite adopting Hogsett’s own anti-gun positions. The Republican says he’ll work with the state legislature to repeal the firearms preemption law, while Hogsett has taken a more combative approach by proposing and shepherding through local ordinances that he admits can’t currently be enforced.

As you can imagine, Shreve’s embrace of several anti-gun proposals hasn’t gone over well among Indy’s conservative voters, and the candidate appeared on radio station WIBC on Wednesday in an attempt to drum up support for his campaign. Based on his comments, however, I doubt he won over many in the audience.

“We will communicate. We will negotiate. We will move the needle down because we are commonly interested in advancing public safety in Indianapolis. Part of that involves being supportive of IMPD,” said Shreve in a Wednesday interview with 93 WIBC’s Kendall and Casey.

He also admitted to Kendall and Casey that so far no one has told him that they are going to support it at this, but he thinks he can get that support in the next legislative session.

“There are some tools and accommodations that I am going to argue for that I think are specific to the challenges that we have right here at home,” said Shreve.

He wants to have stricter gun laws because he believes it’s time to crack down on crime.

“We’ve gotten so soft on crime and solving these shootings. Eight years ago, IMPD’s solve rate was 80%; today it’s closer to 30%,” said Shreve.

Shreve says he came up with this plan by talking to Hoosiers in both Indianapolis and beyond.

“I moved around every township and talked with our citizens, police leadership, talked with people in the faith community, and so much more. I want input from as many people as possible,” said Shreve.

Shreve understands the skepticism by Republicans about his plan, especially on the gun restrictions and laws he wants to pass.

“But look, don’t write me off. Don’t tune me out. Keep listening. Keep challenging my assumptions, my thinking, and my policy,” said Shreve.

Challenge accepted, Mr. Shreve. Let’s start with the asinine assumption that adding more non-violent, possessory misdemeanor offenses is going to make a dent in the city’s violent crime.

Shreve is correct in noting that the homicide clearance rate in Indianapolis was an anemic 35% last year, but he’s sadly mistaken if he thinks that creating more non-violent criminal offenses is going to do anything to help. While the understaffed police force would have several new charges to enforce, the vast majority of those arrested aren’t going to be violent offenders. If anything putting more of these ordinances in place would end up being a distraction from the type of focused deterrence that the city needs; concentrating its efforts on the relatively few number of prolific offenders instead of casting a wide net of criminality over the public at large.

Equally as important, however, are the types of gun control laws that Shreve wants to enact in Indianapolis. Does he really believe that adults younger than 21 have no right to keep and bear arms? Do they have the right to own and carry a gun but not to buy one? What about banning the most commonly-sold rifles in the country? He doesn’t think that would implicate the Second Amendment rights of Indianapolis residents at all? And if banning guns is his preferred means of public safety, why stop at “assault weapons” when handguns are used far more often by violent offenders in the city?

Given that Indiana’s Constitutional Carry law provides that only those who can legally possess a gun can lawfully carry it, what kind of impact does he envision his local repeal of permitless carry actually having? Does he honestly think that a single armed robber or carjacker would choose to go gun-free as a result of a misdemeanor ordinance requiring them to possess a concealed carry license when they’re out there committing violent felonies?

Jefferson Shreve is complaining about Hogsett’s “soft on crime” policies, but going hard after lawful gun owners isn’t the answer. So far Shreve isn’t providing Indianapolis conservatives with a choice, only an echo of the anti-gun attitudes of the current mayor. If he wants the votes of Indianapolis conservatives Shreve should start by not blaming them for the city’s crime woes, and giving them a choice on Election Day. At this point, however, it’s probably too late for Shreve to convincingly walk back his anti-gun views even if he wanted to. His support for gun control will cost him a substantial number of votes, and I expect a number of conservatives in the city will end up casting a write-in vote for local 2A advocates like attorney Guy Relford rather than pulling the lever for a guy who promises to be collegial in criminalizing their fundamental right to armed self-defense.