Indiana State Police Museum
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all. It is good to be back home again in Indiana. And I’m particularly grateful that some leaders in law enforcement from here in the Hoosier State and other officials and a heroic family have taken time to get together to have a conversation about Indiana’s success with our red flag law.
I want to thank the Superintendent Carter for your presence and for your leadership. I’m grateful that I can take some credit for your leadership of the Indiana State Police. And let me also say, it is good to see your daughter, LeeAnn, who is now with the Westfield Police Department, and now following in your footsteps. So we’re grateful to have you here.
Also, I’m very honored — actually, very humbled — to be joined by Mike and Debbie Laird, whose extraordinary son, Jake Laird, fell in the line of duty 15 years ago — a member of INPD. And — but in your loss, you helped inspire a reform in Indiana’s laws that have undoubtedly saved lives. And for that, we’re grateful.
But we — as we now have a national conversation about a way forward in the wake of El Paso, in the wake of Dayton, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to hear from you and from these other leaders in law enforcement about what Indiana has done over the last 15 years and the impact that leaders in law enforcement believe that it’s made.
Let me also thank Larry Turner, a lieutenant colonel with Indiana State Police; Major Mike White, also with ISP; Chief Bryan Roach, of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department — thank you, Chief, for being here, for making this a priority; Sheriff John Boyd, Chief of LaPorte County; Chief Jim Branum, of Richmond Police Department; and a friend of mine of many years, and someone I greatly admire, retired Judge Steve Nation, who, I’m informed, played a role in a recent update of this law in the state of Indiana. And we can talk about that as we go.
Let me say, our hearts, as Americans, are still grieving from the unspeakable violence that took place in Dayton and El Paso. We mourn with those who mourn, but President Trump has made it clear that our administration is determined to work with members of both parties in the Congress to find a way forward to address the scourge of mass shootings that’s been taking place in the United States now for 20 years.
In fact, in my office, yesterday, was a survivor of Sutherland Springs, in Texas. A man that I had met in the hospital when Karen and I went and visited that community after a mass shooting at a church.
I’m pleased to report that our administration worked on a bipartisan basis in the wake of recent events to strengthen background checks. We made a historic investments in school safety. We directed the Department of Justice to ban bump stocks. And we also have made historic investments in state and local law enforcement.
But as the President said, we are looking for opportunities to do more to address this — this unspeakable scourge in our country. And as the President has said, we will always stand for the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. And we’ll stand by the Second Amendment.
But we really believe that vigorous law enforcement, which should be in evidence to every American — individuals being arrested, particularly over the last — the last several days, who have made violent threats on the Internet — the FBI has been moving aggressively over the last year to identify individuals who represent a threat to others and could be a risk of performing one of these mass shootings. And you’ve seen those arrests happening.
We also are working on legislation, as we speak, to expedite due process and capital punishment for those who engage in mass shootings or who engage in shootings that claim the life of a law enforcement officer. I think the American people recognize that justice delayed is justice denied, and that an individual who takes the life of many Americans in a mass shooting, or an individual who takes the life of a law enforcement officer, should not have their justice served in 15 or 20 years. And we’re working very closely with Attorney General Barr to reform our due process laws in such cases to expedite and move those cases forward more rapidly, not only through the trial process, but through the appellate process.
The President and I also believe that an investment in mental health and mental health infrastructure is going to be vital to identifying people early on who may ultimately become a risk, a danger to themself or others.
I’m particularly proud of the fact that in December of ’15 we broke ground here in Indianapolis on the Indiana Neuro Diagnostic Institute, part of Community East. It was the first mental health hospital to be built in Indiana in more than a generation. And it represents a commitment by healthcare providers in this community to expanding the infrastructure of mental health. But we’re looking at ways to provide additional resources to states and cities to have the capacity to deal with individuals who have serious mental illness.
And, finally, in that same vein, as the President said, while we will always defend the right of Americans to keep and bear arms, we don’t want people who are a danger to themselves or a danger to others to have access to firearms.
And among the proposals that are being considered are red flag laws. There is legislation, both in the House and the Senate, that considers this. And I can assure you our administration is looking carefully at it. The reason I brought this forum together was really to listen; to listen to the experience that law enforcement officials here have had with red flag laws in this state and the impact that you believe they’ve had on public safety.
As I said, I also — I also want to acknowledge the Laird family because this is the Jake Laird Red Flag Law in Indiana. Thank you for taking the tragic loss of your courageous son and advancing the safety of the people of Indiana in this legislation. We’ve very grateful, and I’m anxious to hear your thoughts about the difference that the Jake Laird Red Flag Law has made in the state, thanks to your family’s leadership and your son’s sacrifice.
With that, as I said, I’m here to listen and to carry back Indiana’s experience into our discussions at the White House, as well as — as well as with leaders on Capitol Hill. And I’m grateful that everyone is here.
Congresswoman Brooks wasn’t on my card, but I added her late. Thank you so very much, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, for being here.
So, with that, I’m going to recognize Superintendent Carter and then the Laird family, and then we’ll have a discussion once the bright lights are off.
But we’re here to listen. We’re here to bring the resolve of the American people to taking those steps that we believe will be effective in making the American people safer even while preserving the liberties of law-abiding Americans.
That’s our challenge, and the President has tasked our team and has challenged the Congress to work with us to identify reforms like the red flag law that would be able to contribute to confronting this scourge of mass shootings in our country. And I’m grateful that you all are here.
(Roundtable discussion begins.)
(Roundtable discussion ends.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great. Well, let me thank all these leaders and especially the Laird family for being here, and I look forward to continuing our conversation.
But Indiana is a state that is well known for respecting the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. But I want you all to know that Indiana is also well known now as a state that 15 years ago created a tool that has made it possible for families, for law enforcement officers, for communities to avoid tragedy. And we’re going to take a hard look at it and a hard look at Indiana’s experience.
I’m proud — I’m proud for what the Laird family has done with this legislation and the improvements that have been made, even over the last year. But I’d be proud of it if I wasn’t from Indiana, because Indiana has provided real leadership in this area. And I want you — I want you all to know that we’re going to be taking it back.
And again, the President is absolutely determined to work with leaders in both political parties in the Congress — in the wake of El Paso, in the wake of Dayton, in the wake of 20 years of unspeakable mass shootings and heartbreaking loss — to see if there is a way, in addition to what we’ve done so far — improving background checks and banning bump stocks and hardening our schools nationally — to find out if there is a way to give law enforcement another tool to expand availability of mental health, and also to redouble our efforts to vigorous and swift law enforcement, to apprehend individuals that may represent a threat before they act, and to bring justice more swiftly to those who would ever engage in these unspeakable crimes.
So with that, thank you all very much. And we’ll let them step out and then I have a couple more questions I’d like to ask.