Broad Ripple businesses consider gun-free zone after latest shooting
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A neighborhood group on Monday said it’s pursuing “every option” to curb the rising tide of violence in Broad Ripple.
A shooting early Sunday left three people dead and a fourth wounded. Someone was wounded in another shooting in early May. Broad Ripple Village Association Executive Director Jordan Dillon says the violence has left people who live and work in Broad Ripple feeling defeated and deflated.
“For the majority of the people who have their business here, they know what the village can be and what it has been,” she said. “And right now, it’s lacking.”
Dillon says the group is asking the city to consider implementing a gun-free zone in the neighborhood as a result of the shooting. She also added the association is not yet sure whether it would apply merely to businesses or also to streets and sidewalks, but the group is open to any option that could work.
The city v. The state
During a news conference about the shootings on Sunday, Mayor Joe Hogsett blamed the General Assembly’s Republican supermajority for exacerbating the violence problem. He says looser gun laws such as permitless carry have increased the likelihood that people will turn to guns to solve their problems.
“When (the shooters) were empowered by a set of reckless policies that are designed to ensure that the simplest solutions aren’t on the table, tragic events like early this morning happen,” he said. “This may be what they want, but it is not what we are willing to accept.”
On Monday, Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, says he disputed Hogsett’s characterization. He said the state has held large-scale events for years under its gun laws without any incident.
Sandlin, who served for 20 years in what was then the Indianapolis Police Department, says Haughville went through something similar to Broad Ripple’s problems during his time on the force.
He says officials resolved it by dedicating more officers to the area and working with residents on issues they identified as priorities, such as clearing alleys.
“I don’t see the current administration at that level of engagement,” he said. “It’s really nice to see the mayor, after seven and a half years, engage and take an interest in public policy as it deals with crime in the city. I mean, he’s been really absent all the time he’s been the mayor.”
Sandlin says state law already allows a business to prohibit its patrons from carrying firearms on the premises.
He also says there is nothing wrong under state law with a gun-free zone being declared for a particular event with a private contractor, such as the recent Garfield Park concert, but a gun-free zone applied to public right-of-ways such as city streets could lead to a court challenge.
What business owners want
The gun-free zone idea got a mixed reception on the streets of Broad Ripple.
Jennifer Velasco, a longtime business owner and resident of Broad Ripple, says the idea is long overdue and city officials should take it a step further with a curfew. Someone fired a bullet through one of her store’s windows during a shooting a couple of years ago, so she has sustained property damage in the past.
“I think (the gun-free zone) might be a deterrent,” she said. “I don’t know how they plan on enforcing it but they need some different ideas. We have all the video cameras and that has helped but, apparently, it’s not enough.”
Bill Ficca says he wasn’t so sure about the gun-free zone idea. He says criminals are not going to pay attention to any such ordinances. Ficca, who owns or co-owns several bars and restaurants in the area, says the city should instead focus on large groups congregating in empty parking lots in the early morning hours.
“A lot of these people are in parking lots where the owner of the parking lot is collecting (businesses’) rent, and they are ‘hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil,’” he said. “They need to be involved. They need to spend money the way the bars do to secure their lots, the same way we have to secure our establishments.”
Dillon says both Velasco’s and Ficca’s ideas are worth exploring, as well. She says the association is working with lawyers to figure out their best option.
Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office says he will release a plan for combating gun violence in Broad Ripple later this week. Hogsett on Sunday said IMPD will meet with the owners of properties that have become hotspots for violence in Broad Ripple.