A Letter from Indiana Bishops to Governor Holcomb

On March 9, Bishop Jennifer and Bishop Doug Sparks sent the following letter to Governor Holcomb urging the opposition of House Bill 1369.

March 9, 2021

The Honorable Eric Holcomb
Office of the Governor
200 W. Washington St., Rm. 206
Indianapolis, IN  46204

Dear Governor Holcomb:

The Indiana House recently passed House Bill 1369, which would eliminate the need for citizens of our state to obtain a license in order to carry a handgun. This is an ill-considered piece of legislation that will make our state a more dangerous place to live, and we urge you and the members of the Indiana Senate to oppose it.

Evidence from across our country confirms that states with stricter gun laws experience fewer gun deaths. Yet the House is proposing to get rid of a law that helps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, even as gun violence in our state is on the rise.

Indiana’s rate of gun deaths increased 30 percent from 2010 to 2019, compared to a 17 percent increase nationwide, according to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of gun suicides increased 19 percent during that same period, compared to a 13 percent increase nationwide, and the rate of gun homicides increased by an alarming 57 percent compared to a 26 percent increase nationwide.

These are alarming statistics, but they don’t tell the whole story. This escalating violence takes a particular toll on our most vulnerable communities. Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children and teens in our state. It wreaks vastly disproportionate devastation on communities of color, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it poses a singular danger to domestic violence victims who may not be able to flee their gun-owning abusers, and to people struggling with mental health issues.

If passed, House Bill 1369 would also intensify the danger faced by law enforcement officers across our state. And that, no doubt, is why it is strongly opposed by the Indiana State Police.

We Hoosiers are hardy people, and we do not expect our elected officials to solve all of our problems for us. But we should be able to rely on the state legislature not to make our state more violent and not to place its people at greater risk.

We are participants in Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a network of more than 100 Episcopal bishops working to curtail the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. We acknowledge the importance of Second Amendment rights, but we object when those rights are understood so broadly that vulnerable people are put at risk. The current handgun licensing law does not present an undue burden on gun ownership, and our state will be safer if we keep it on the books.

We strongly urge you to oppose this legislation.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows
Bishop of Indianapolis

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Sparks
Bishop of Northern Indiana

Cc:  Members of the Indiana State Senate