INDIANAPOLIS | State lawmakers are likely next year to consider specifically adding schools to Indiana's existing "castle doctrine" law that permits Hoosiers to stand their ground and use deadly force to counter perceived threats to themselves, another person or their property.
State Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, said following a legislative study committee meeting on school safety issues Tuesday he's intrigued by the idea of changing the law to protect a person who may resort to deadly force to prevent a school massacre.
"Let's look at the possibility of rather than this person going and retreating into a bathroom and allowing someone to barge down the hallways and start shooting, maybe it is possible we could add that to the castle doctrine to give them the ability to possibly take action to stop any kind of intrusion like that," said Mahan, a former Blackford County sheriff.
The two-term state representative said he isn't yet committed to sponsoring legislation on that topic when the General Assembly convenes in January and doesn't want the state to require armed personnel in every school.
But Mahan believes lawmakers need to consider creative solutions, such as expanding the castle doctrine, that could improve school safety.
"I think we ought to look into it a little further," Mahan said.
The School Safety Interim Study Committee did not formally recommend in its final report that the Legislature expand the castle doctrine, but that does not restrict legislators from sponsoring such a plan.
The castle doctrine proposal was suggested to the committee by Guy Relford, a Carmel gun-rights attorney who fought unsuccessfully earlier this year to have Hammond's restrictive gun ordinances wiped off the books even though they've been superseded by state law and are not enforced by Hammond police.
State Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, said bringing stand-your-ground to Indiana schools demands more serious consideration than offered by a summer study committee.
"I understand what they're striving for — you want to keep the bad guy out of the school. We all want to do that," said Arnold, a former LaPorte County sheriff. "But when you're talking about expanding the castle doctrine to schools there's got to be a lot of forethought put into this."
"We don't want gunfights at the front door."