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Bill sent to governor trying to torpedo Gary lawsuit against gun makers, sellers

Vernon Smith sits on the House floor. Another lawmaker is out of focus, in the foreground. Smith is a Black man, balding with black hair and a mustache, wearing a suit and tie.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) said a bill to end Gary's lawsuit against gun manufacturers and sellers is wrong.

Indiana Republicans are interfering in a lawsuit by the city of Gary against gun manufacturers and sellers.

Legislation sent to the governor Tuesday is intended to end that lawsuit and ban any community in the state from suing the gun industry ever again.

Rep. Chris Jeter (R-Fishers) said the state — through the attorney general — should be the only one responsible for bringing government suits against gun makers and sellers.

There are two narrow exceptions in HB 1235. Local governments could sue over a breach of contract or a warranty issue — if, for instance, they bought guns that turned out to be defective.

READ MORE: Local communities could not sue gun industry, even for illegal acts, under Senate-approved bill

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Jeter said the Senate added the other exception.

“Which was for ordinance violations,” Jeter said. “So, also now would allow political subdivisions to enforce their own ordinances on these entities. I think it’s a reasonable approach.”

Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary said the bill is wrong.

“I’m tired of Gary being dogged out, kicked to the curb,” Smith said. “Ignored, misused.”

Final passage in the House was largely along party lines.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.