Crossroads in the crosshairs

Poor timing of NRA convention in Indy seems tone deaf


Finn Nowacki

The National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meeting is taking place in the Indiana Convention Center this weekend.

Kate Strunk, Social Media Editor

This week, instead of using my weekly AIM time to study for my biology test and practice my geometry problems, I had to spend that time planning what would happen if an active shooter came into my school while I was eating lunch. While I prepared for this seemingly dystopian but shockingly common scenario, the NRA was preparing for its annual convention just a half an hour away from my high school, planning to welcome over 40,000 gun enthusiasts.

This morning, the annual meeting began at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis with former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence in attendance. The meeting got underway just a week after a school shooting in Tennessee, days after a mass shooting in Ft. Wayne and hours after several shootings in Indianapolis overnight. 

While the meeting itself and the NRA are not singularly responsible for the pervasive gun violence seen in the United States today, Indiana needs to think about what kind of message it’s sending to its students and citizens affected by gun violence in recent times.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been five mass shooting events in the last five days. Three of these (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky) were in close proximity to Indianapolis. 

While the event is billed as “the largest gathering of…second amendment supporters in the country” (it’s worth noting that despite their love of the second amendment, firearms will be prohibited from being brought into the premises), the event features many gun-centered exhibits and events including a “youth day” which, at past conventions, has culminated with one child winning a rifle or shotgun of their choice.

The insensitivity of the situation is hard to ignore. This week, the United States had its hundredth mass shooting of 2023. The NRA is responsible for many of the laws and amendments that make guns so accessible in America through lobbying current lawmakers and contributing massive amounts of money to candidates who would support their set of views. 

Hosting this convention in a time of such frequent gun violence and mass shootings sends a message that Indiana is choosing to ignore the cries of students and citizens for safer gun laws while giving a huge platform to gun lobbyists and supporters like the members of the NRA.

This week, just days after the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee that killed three adults and three children, and just hours after five lives were lost in a mass shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana Republican senators signed a resolution honoring the NRA with Senator Jim Times praising their “service and dedication promoting the second amendment rights of our citizens not only in Indiana but across the United States of America.”

Students and parents are growing tired of being silenced while the opposition is put on a pedestal and listened to. I’m tired of being scared to go to school and worrying I won’t come home. I’m tired of having class time taken away because I have to practice hiding from a shooter. I’m tired of planning escape routes from my classrooms and lunch tables.  Students should never have to worry about their safety at school. And yet, here I am writing this article at home after waking up to a threat of violence at Center Grove this morning resulting in the cancellation of all classes. 

This convention being held in Indianapolis is another crushing blow that makes students feel like Indiana doesn’t care about their safety or their well-being. The level of gun violence seen in America today is unconscionable and should result in a conscious effort towards change.

It does not have to be this way. Lawmakers are capable of reducing gun violence. The question is will they put our safety first, or will their priority be the interests of a lobbying body who is responsible for the ease of obtaining the weapons that have been used in 152 mass shootings in America this year so far?