Armed Hoosier Toddlers

The fact that there’s been 67 mass shooting events in the United States this year by this date (Feb. 16) is ample evidence that something is going terribly wrong. Things are haywire in American society.

Now, consider this new phenomenon: Armed Hoosier toddlers.

In January, a 4-year-old Beech Grove boy was seen in a shocking live video during the TV show “On Patrol: Live on Reelz” that went viral nationally. According to Marion County court documents, Beech Grove Police found the boy in a diaper in an apartment complex hallway waving around a handgun. The father is facing three felony charges of neglect of a dependent and dangerous control of a firearm.

In early February, a Lafayette 3-year-old shot himself in the leg and was treated at the hospital for minor injuries. WFLI-TV reported that LPD Lt. Mike Brown said there were multiple people were in the house when the shot was fired.

Last November, a 4-year-old Muncie boy shot and killed himself in front of his 2-year-old sister. The boyfriend of the mother, according to Fox59, “routinely left his Glock on a dollhouse inside his girlfriend’s home.”

On Feb. 9, a 2-year-old Portage girl died after “accidentally” shooting herself. WLS-TV reported: Officials said the initial investigation shows that the child was able to gain access to a family-owned firearm and discharged a single round, striking herself.

In East Chicago a few days later, it was a 14-year-old boy who “accidentally” shot an 11-year-old boy, according to WLS-TV.

WRTV reported in August 2022 that 76 children had been gun violence victims so far that year, 11 of them fatally. In 2021, according to IMPD data, a total of 92 kids were victims of shootings, 12 of them fatally. In 2021, a record 48,000 Americans were killed by firearms, including suicides, homicides and accidents.

On Valentine’s Day, the Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich reported that the total number of children exposed to gun violence at school had risen from 187,000 in 2018 to a staggering 338,000 this year. “By nearly every meaningful measure, 2022 was the worst year of school shootings in history,” Cox and Rich continue. “Across 46 acts of violence during school hours, 34 students and adults died while more than 43,000 children were exposed to gunfire at the places they go to learn and grow.”

Kate Woodsome, a producer, writer and director, writes in a Washington Post op-ed, “American kids are unwell because American society is unwell. The systems and social media making teenagers sad, angry and afraid today were shaped in part by adults who grew up sad, angry and afraid themselves.”

Woodsome cites a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data from the first Youth Risk Behavior Survey collected across the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. “It is devastating,” Woodsome writes. “Nearly 1 in 3 high school girls reported in 2021 that they had seriously considered suicide.”

There is a plethora of reasons for this deep funk, ranging from bullying to social media impacts, but the fact that our kids are stepping on to the school bus and having to take part in “active shooter drills” and knowing, in the back of their minds, that they may leave school in a body bag is part of our harrowing reality.

At Michigan State University on Monday, a gunman shot and killed three students and critically wounded five others before taking his own life. As tens of thousands of students have endured in recent years, MSU students received the hallmark text of our haywire times: “Run, hide, fight.”

On Tuesday, the Indiana House Republicans passed a bill 71-24 that would begin a state-funded handgun training program for teachers. “Sadly, it’s something that’s necessary for the tragic world we live in today,” said Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.


I personally know several teachers, and not one of them believes that arming themselves in the classroom is a good idea. It is a bandage step to a catastrophic epidemic of violence. They are, to a person, thinking of leaving the profession. That’s part of the reason we are having a teacher shortage.

“Guns are part of the American way of life,” Lucas said. “It’s enshrined in our Constitution. It’s enshrined in our Bill of Rights.”

I want to remind Rep. Lucas that the preamble to the U.S. Constitution reads: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Our leaders and lawmakers are failing us; leaving our students vulnerable and frightened; many of our children exposed and endangered. In a nation awash in guns, they are refusing to take common sense preventative steps to staunch this violence. A society that refuses to protect its children is an endangered one.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, whose district includes MSU, said, “I’m filled with rage that we have to have another press conference to talk about our children being killed in their schools. And I would say that you either care about protecting kids or you don’t.”

The columnist is managing editor of Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs at Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.