A Republican state lawmaker flashed his gun to a group of students who were visiting the Indiana Statehouse to demand legislation to help prevent gun violence.
A video taken by one of the students showed Indiana state Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) engaging in a heated debate about gun rights with the group of students for a few minutes before abruptly telling them he was carrying a gun. The incident was first reported by The Statehouse File, a student-run organization that published a 10-minute video of the encounter.
“I’m carrying right now,” he told the students as he opened his jacket to reveal a gun.
“See, and nothing about that makes me feel safe though,” junior Makynna Fivecoats, 17, could be heard saying in the video.
The students, from the Burris Laboratory School in Muncie, Ind., are members of Students Demand Action, a national organization made up of young activists calling for action on gun violence in the aftermath of the 2018 deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
The video was captured by Fivecoats, who described the incident in an interview with The Hill. Fivecoats said the group was at the Statehouse in Indianapolis for Advocacy Day, where they hoped to engage lawmakers in discussions about curtailing gun violence.
As the group of students were leaving the Statehouse, Fivecoats said Lucas stopped the group in the elevator to ask them what they were demanding. When they told him they were pushing for gun sense in America, he told them “that’s terrible” and suggested they step out of the elevator with him to discuss it further, Fivecoats said.
She said the discussion turned “very aggressive, very quickly.”
“When one of our other members asked why he felt the need to carry a handgun, he showed us his gun,” Fivecoats said. “And it just at that point, the situation really just kind of took a turn. And it was no longer a civil conversation. It was more of a power dynamic. And he was telling us — he was almost talking at us and we just kind of had to sit there and be quiet.”
Fivecoats said she and the rest of the group members did not feel heard in the situation, adding that adults and lawmakers often overlook them because of their age.
“The people close to me are dying by guns every day. It is no longer just an adult conversation. It’s a me conversation. It’s my friend’s conversation. It’s a school conversation,” she said. “It’s a conversation for everyone, and by him showing me his firearm, it was no longer a conversation but a threat.”
In the video, Lucas could be heard defending his right to have a handgun. When asked why he felt the need to bring it to the Statehouse, he emphasized he carries it to defend himself.
Fivecoats told Lucas that his having a firearm does not make them feel safe, which led him to say, “OK, those are feelings; I’m talking facts.”
“That’s what this is about. This is about feelings,” Fivecoats responded.
“People who want to kill you don’t care about your feelings,” Lucas told her.
Lucas appeared to dismiss the incident in comments made to The Statehouse File after the encounter Tuesday. He said he was “simply showing an inanimate object” to prove his point about guns.
“People that want to have adult conversations, I think, need to be able to handle adult situations,” he said.
The IndyStar noted that lawmakers are allowed to carry their guns at the Statehouse under state law and employees are also allowed to do so as well under a 2017 Senate bill that Lucas helped sponsor.
The Hill has reached out to Lucas’s office for comment.