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Valparaiso Council passes firearm education and safe storage resolution

A handgun sits in a display at Femme Fatale Guns & Sporting in South Bend, Indiana.
Justin Hicks
IPB News
A handgun sits in a display at Femme Fatale Guns & Sporting in South Bend, Indiana.

The Valparaiso City Council is voicing its support for gun safety.

The council unanimously passed a resolution Monday raising awareness of safe gun storage, calling on city officials to explore programs to offer gun locks and firearm training, and calling on state and federal lawmakers to incentivize those programs. It cites the role of firearms in suicides of young people, along with local incidents of young children finding loaded guns.

Council member Emilie Hunt said the resolution is a commitment not only to prepare for the worst, but also to take every possible step to prevent the worst from happening. "I really just want to say how proud I am to be sitting up here and on this council with representatives who were able to take their differences and bring them to the table and have a conversation," Hunt said.

While the issue of gun safety was brought up last year, it failed to get traction until the council flipped to a Democratic majority in January. Hunt worked with the two Republican members to craft the resolution.

Republican Jack Pupillo felt that firearm education and safety was something everyone could agree on, including the staunchest Second Amendment supporters. "As them number of firearms have grown in this country, the education around firearms — we've kind of stuck our head in the sand, right? I mean in the '60s and '70s, there was firearm education in schools, right? That doesn't exist anymore," Pupillo said.

While supporting the resolution, Democrat Robert Cotton still seemed a bit frustrated that it took this long. "The resolution, as far as I'm concerned, was ready when it was first presented, and I think the hurdles that you were willing to engage in were subject to ears that were willing to listen and to compromise," Cotton said.

Hunt also dismissed concerns that the resolution was just political posturing, noting that some measures have already begun: The Valparaiso Police Department has free gun locks and educational materials available. The city's fire department plans to include safe gun storage in a new safety and prevention pamphlet. And Valparaiso Community Schools has distributed safe storage reminders.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.