SOUTH BEND – Advocates of banning sale of assault rifles to civilians always argue that nobody in the public needs one of these weapons of war.
 
They are wrong. Brandon Hole needed an assault rifle. In fact, he needed two. Hole is the 19-year-old shooter who killed eight people and injured more as he fired away outside and then inside that FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
 
Hole needed an assault weapon to achieve his goal, a mass shooting, a massacre, capturing attention not just at the FedEx place where he once worked but throughout the nation. With so many shootings in America, you have to kill whole bunch to get headlines nationally these days.
 
If the young man had only a conventional handgun, he would have failed to shoot as many, to kill as many, to become nationally known.
 
His mother reported to authorities in March 2020 that she feared he was planning “suicide by cop,” firing a shotgun at police so that they would return fire and kill him. Police took the shotgun away. But prosecutors feared the short deadline for obtaining evidence and seeking a court order and other loopholes in the state’s “red flag” law could have led to losing a case for further restrictions and forcing return of the shotgun.
 
Even the few laws to lessen chances of guns being obtained for evil purposes seem to be written with more concern for the would-be gun owner, nuts or not, than for the safety of the public. Thus, loopholes in background checks and “red flag” laws and scant time for checking.
 
So, Hole was able legally to buy assault rifles in July and September last year.
 
He took both to the FedEx facility. Did he really need two?
 
Yes. He did, if he wanted to be sure of achieving his goal. What if the first assault rifle jammed? What if somebody knocked the first weapon out of his hands? Why not be sure of as much firepower as possible?
 
By the way, Indianapolis police described the weapons as assault rifles, as they are, even though some gun lobby purists say they can’t technically be described that way because of being only semi-automatic and not having all the characteristics of the military version. Semi-automatic did a darn nice job for Hole in achieving his goal. And such weapons were included officially in the one-time federal ban on such weapons. Either way, semantics don’t kill people; assault rifles do.
 
Reaction to the Indianapolis massacre came quickly. Politicians offered the usual thoughts and prayers and, in some cases, called for doing something about the shootings in our cities.
 
State Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, immediately put out a statement.
 
Baldwin hailed glories of his Senate resolution proclaiming that it is the policy of the Indiana Senate to “oppose any punitive taxes, fines, confiscations, restrictions or prohibitions concerning lawful firearms, accessories or ammunition” and not to restrict “the manufacture, possession, sale, distribution or purchase of firearms based on their ornamentation or appearance or on their magazine or ammunition capacity.” The resolution also extends the policy to refusal to “comply with or assist in any attempts, state or local, or foreign or domestic, to restrict” 2nd Amendment rights.    
 
Guess that covers it.
 
Baldwin also expressed regret that the bill to do away with need for gun permits was stalled in the House.
 
When questions arose about his response to the actions of Brandon Hole, Baldwin told Howey Politics Indiana that his press release was written earlier in the week and a “pre-scheduled” release was “regrettably timed.” No regrets about the sentiments expressed in the resolution and widely shared in the legislature.
 
Baldwin can seek again next session to eliminate need for gun permits and enact protections for gun sales. It could be called the Branden Hole Gun Rights Act.·      

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.