Commentary by Hammerle

As I read the Indianapolis Star’s Editorial Board Opinion entitled “Underlying Issues” and Tim Swarens’ accompanying article, two things were remarkably lacking. In neither article did this newspaper talk about the sad breakdown in our educational system combined with the access to firearms. How can you possibly talk about finding long-term solutions to violence when you ignore the ability of high school dropouts to get deadly weapons?

I have proudly functioned as a defense attorney in this community since 1976, and that follows one year as a grade school teacher at School 87 located near 24th and Martin Luther King Blvd. Simply stated, when you lose an adolescent to the school system, churches mean little or nothing. Once you send them to the street, the only thing that matters is the language of the street.

Look at the statistics and you will quickly understand. Nearly all of these kids involved in violence have dropped out of school. You can try to blame their parents, but what if there is no functioning parent in the home? You can keep quoting local pastors all you want, but what if they are only speaking to the middle-aged and elderly, never the teenagers?

Put another way, we have just spent trillions of dollars in Iraq foolishly trying to rebuild their society. What we need to do is have the courage to do this in America. That begins by having the strength to have a national program where major metropolitan areas like Indianapolis receive federal assistance to have public schools expand to a full 12 months. It doesn’t make sense to send these kids home for the summer when there is literally no functioning home available.

Additionally, we all know that close to 90% of our public school children are on the federal lunch program. Where on Earth do you think they eat when you send them home during the summer? If the only one there is a working mother who is literally gone for most of the day, where do you think they are going to turn for guidance and inspiration?

Lastly, you can’t moan and groan about the increased number of deaths caused by young people with handguns without talking about the handguns. As stated, let’s start having these kids stay in school in our public system 12 months a year until they graduate and then see the results.

Additionally, let’s re-examine our laws concerning the possession of firearms. If you need a license to drive a car, why not require one to own a gun? If we have a penalty in Indiana that now exposes a person to a C felony, namely 2 to 8 years in prison, for possession of over 10 pounds of marijuana, can’t we at least have that same penalty apply to illegal firearms possession?

In the end, I join the Star’s Editorial Board in seeking a solution to violence. However, as long as we tolerate massive dropouts to have access to an unlimited selection of firearms, we literally are left spitting in the wind.