Calls for universal background checks and ban on assault rifles during Saint Mary’s College protest

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2023 at 6:15 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Folks in South Bend are demanding a change in gun laws that would ban assault weapons and require universal background checks.

You could see them walking along State Road 933 near Saint Mary’s College on Friday.

Many of the people we spoke to said actions speak louder than words, and they say that’s especially true for the lawmakers in Indy who will vote on several gun bills this session.

They say some of these bills put limits on who can have guns and how they can get them, but they’re concerned if they’ll have the support to come into law.

Protesters let their actions do the talking, intentionally walking in silence, on an issue many of them say they’re tired of keeping to themselves.

This was especially important for two Notre Dame students whose home states are still healing from mass shooting tragedies in the past year.

“I’m from Nashville originally and it’s been really hard to be away from home, especially with what’s been happening, so when we found out about this it was really important for us, especially me, to be here,” said Notre Dame Sophomore Trista Brantley.

“I’m a proud Michigander, son of the midwest, and a lot of my friends at Michigan State had to obviously deal with the shooting there and there are students at Michigan State that experienced the shooting (at Sandy Hook) and also the shooting in Oxford Michigan too,” said Notre Dame Sophomore Jack Sirianni.

Brantley is referring not only to the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, but also Thursday’s actions that expelled two Democrats from the Tennessee legislature on a party-line vote after they joined protests responding to the violence that killed three children and three teachers.

Peer-reviewed studies, including one cited in the New York Times, are finding that gunfire is now the leading cause of death in children (1-18).

Scenes from Uvalde and Nashville are still fresh in peoples’ minds, and school shooting only makeup one percent of child gun deaths in America.

Everytown For Gun Safety ranks Indiana at 30th in the country when it comes to the strength of its gun laws.

It’s profile on the Hoosier State suggests taking action to require background checks for people purchasing handguns, to reject existing stand-your-ground laws, and to require permits for carrying a handgun in public, a barrier Indiana lawmakers removed last summer.

“It’s a group like I said, of friends, neighbors, citizens, people who care and are concerned and want to express their opinions about the situation we’re living in. The violence, the unnecessary deaths,” said walk organizer Anne Luther.