First I want to thank you all for the overwhelming support that has flooded our way since the announcement of this bill this past week. So many of you have come forward asking what you can do to help it get passed. This means so much. I would like to share a few of my thoughts on this bill and then share some instruction on what you can do to help.
This bill was written by Senator Merritt with my husband’s murder as the motivation. Nate’s murderer was only 16 and yet had been in and out of the juvenile system far too many times without any accountability for his criminal actions. Because of a system failure, he was able to roam the streets freely and kill my husband on the morning of April 1st.
Now I know there is nothing that can bring Nate back, although I so often wish I could. I also can’t say for certain that had this bill been in place last year that it would have prevented Nate’s murder. I can say this – that if it can even save one family from the devastation that we have had to suffer, then it is worth every single minute of my time, and yours, to get passed. And even though this won’t solve anything overnight, I believe it is a step in the right direction. There are many things that still need to be improved within our city to decrease our crime rate, but it starts here and it starts with us.
I want to start by getting this bill passed, then work from there to start making sure our laws are enforced – because what good is another law it if is not enforced. Our police force is doing the best they can, and they have suffered this past year too. But there has to be a way out there to get these criminals off of the streets.
I also want to give a clarification out there, that this bill is not a limitation on gun access. Instead it incorporates harsher punishments to those who were once considered minors, and also to those who use guns violently or carry them illegally. For those who carry guns legally, this will not affect you in any way so long as you use it within the state of the law.
The purpose of the bill is to provide that a juvenile court does not have jurisdiction over an individual: (1) at least 14 years of age who carries a handgun without a license; or (2) who uses a firearm in the commission of an offense. Makes communicating a threat with the intent to cause the evacuation of school property or a hospital a Level 6 felony. (Under current law, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.) Adds unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon to the definition of “crime of violence”. Provides that a person who uses a firearm to commit certain offenses may be sentenced to an additional term of 20 years. (Under current law, the person may be sentenced to an additional term of five to 20 years.)
Here is a link to the current draft of the bill: SB 279, January 8 Version
Here is a link to the Indianapolis News article about the bill: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2015/01/12/legislators-seek-tougher-sentences-gun-crimes/21661545/
Here is how you can help:
- Call your senator:
- if you don’t know who to call, check here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
- You’ll want to call the number associated with the state senator, who should pop up first on the list.
- Tell the call representative that you’re calling to ask Senator ___ to support Senate Bill (SB) 279. They will ask for your name and address, and that’s it! It should only take a few minutes of your time.
- Write a letter or email to your senator:
- Dear Senator ____:
I notice that SB 279 has been assigned to committee. I am writing to ask that your caucus move with a sense of purpose to make certain that this bill moves through the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee to the Senate floor. I have been more concerned than ever about juvenile offenders committing violent crimes since the young husband and father, Nathan Trapuzzano was murdered in a shooting last April in Indianapolis by a juvenile in Indianapolis. In every county in our state, our leaders need a “carrot-and-stick” approach to work with troubled youth. SB 279 will give our prosecutors the “stick” they need to deal with the most violent among them. SB 279 is a just, vital, and necessary update to our juvenile code. Senator, I welcome the opportunity to write to you concerning SB 279. I am watching your Senate website to see news of your committee activities, and I wish you a successful 2015 Session.
Thank you for supporting SB 279,
- Dear Senator ____:
- Help spread the word and get others involved!
Thank you all!