Just when you think you’ve seen it all, here comes Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas again.

Only this time he didn’t test positive for THC in his blood, didn’t have a high blood-alcohol count or wasn’t walking on an interstate highway after wrecking his vehicle and driving on the rims.

This time guns are on his mind. Lucas has been outspoken in his support of the right of citizens to carry arms.

He stopped a group of high school students visiting the Capitol last week about their concerns with the prevalence of guns in our society.

And why shouldn’t the students be concerned about guns? Students in classrooms throughout this nation have been killed and injured in greater and greater numbers in gun violence.

In an early January 2024 report on national school violence, U.S. News & World Report tallied 346 school shooting incidents, which adds up to an average of nearly one incident a day — the highest total on record since at least 1966. In those shootings, U.S. News reported, there were 248 victims — either killed or wounded — not including the shooters.

Since 1966 school shootings, whether in elementary or high schools or on college campuses, have brought a new lexicon into our language. Depending on the generation into which we were born, we remember the Texas Tower, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and, more recently, Uvalde. They need no explanation when cited.

So, why wouldn’t the young people from a Muncie high school have been startled when Lucas initiated a conversation with them and within a few minutes revealed the holstered gun he was carrying?

Beyond startled, some said they felt unsafe and frightened. Lucas is a Republican who represents Indiana House District 69, which includes parts of Bartholomew, Scott, Jackson and Washington counties.

He was the author of legislation that created a weapons training program for public school teachers who wish to participate. The program isn’t mandatory, Lucas had emphasized.

As it is, legislators and some state officials already have the right to carry guns in the Statehouse. And some are indeed carrying, if Lucas is an example.

High school can be a very challenging time for students. We have more and more bullying in the schools, suicide numbers among young people are climbing, metal detectors are at the locked doors to schools and reserve police officers are regularly assigned to schools.

Intimidating to say the least, scary at worst. Lucas, who has been an elected public official long enough now to know better, should have remembered that public officials today often end up in a fray of words, instead of a discussion of issues.

Conflict, not collaboration, has become the operative word when it comes to figuring out how to resolve issues. It’s a win or lose world.

There is nothing wrong with Lucas wanting to make sure the young people understand how to look at an issue from all of its different perspectives.

There is something wrong, though, in broaching a conversation with young people intent on proving you are right and they are wrong when those young minds are grappling with complex issues.

Lucas and his colleagues need to turn this encounter into a learning experience and a teachable moment.

One issue is guns. But another is how we treat one another and work together.

Time to grow up, Jim Lucas.
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