Cara Graper had a talk with her then-kindergarten aged son a few years ago that put the prevalence of gun violence in perspective.
“He told me, ‘We learned a bad guy drill today’,” Graper said.
Her son, who is now 8, explained that he had to hide under a teacher’s desk while school faculty made loud noises in the hallways to simulate an active-shooter drill. She was angry about how normalized these drills had become.
Graper and her son were some of the more than two dozen protesters at a Saturday rally organized by Moms Demand Action on Crown Point’s Courthouse Square. The organization is a subsidiary of Everytown for Gun Safety, and the rally was held as part of a “Mother’s Day of Action” calling for the reinstatement of the bipartisan assault weapons ban passed by Congress in 1994 and expired in 2004.
On the hot cloudy day, the small crowd of mostly women wearing red gathered with homemade signs expressing a wide spectrum of views. One sign was an acrostic mocking the National Rifle Association that said, “No Rational Argument,” while another held a sign that resembled the Thin Blue Line flag said, “Police, thank you.”
Stephanie Kelly, the local group leader of Moms Demand Action, became involved with the organization after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, which killed 19 students and two teachers last year. She said the group’s call for the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban is reasonable and called on lawmakers to “honor our mothers with action.”
“We think this is something most people can get on board with, that our children should live in a safe world,” Kelly said.
The protesters received many honks of support from passing cars, but a few people weren’t on board with an assault weapons ban and approached protestors for sometimes heated debate.
Many of the protestors, however, stressed that gun safety shouldn’t be a political issue. Buffy Adams of Crown Point came to the rally after her neighbor told her about it. She said she supports bipartisan gun legislation, and is a gun owner herself.
“Gun ownership and gun safety are super important to me, but we’re talking about assault rifles,” Adams said. “We’re not talking about all guns.
“This should be a non-issue for both sides of the aisle to come together and do something.”
Barbara Domer, a Democrat running for a seat on Valparaiso’s City Council District 3, attended the rally. The 62-year-old had never run for public office before, but decided to because her “voice wasn’t being heard.”
“I would love to see Valparaiso adopt resolutions regarding gun sense and gun safety,” Domer said.
Graper, meanwhile, is a registered Republican who said she believes some people should be able to own weapons like an AR-15.
But she came to support the protesters because she opposes some gun laws in Indiana, such as the repeal of Indiana’s requirement for a permit to carry a handgun that was passed in 2022. Graper opposed the repeal because she’s concerned about the safety of police officers. Several law enforcement groups in Indiana, including Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter, also opposed repealing permit requirements for handguns.
Graper said she’s been protesting for gun safety for 12 years, another said he had been protesting since the Columbine shooting and Adams said she doesn’t protest a lot.
“No one really has the time (for protesting),” Adams said. “But you gotta make time for things that are important.”
Adams said she thinks it’s up to Congress to pass meaningful gun control and has little faith in Indiana legislators. Kelly agrees.
“(Indiana lawmakers) are not doing anything to make us safer,” Kelly said. “They’re actually making us unsafe.”
Jared Quigg is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.