Jul 14, 2023 - Politics

Republican for Indianapolis mayor promises gun control

Republican mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve speaks at a lectern as supporters look on.

Republican Jefferson Shreve rolled out his public safety agenda yesterday in Broad Ripple. Photo: James Briggs/Axios

Republican mayoral candidate Jefferson Shreve is taking up a gun control agenda and promising he can implement it more effectively than Democrat Joe Hogsett.

Driving the news: Shreve, a self-funded millionaire who has campaigned on Hogsett's failure to stop violence, released a public safety agenda Thursday that includes raising the firearm purchase age to 21, ending permitless carry and banning assault-style weapons in Indianapolis.

Flashback: If that sounds familiar, it's because that's the same set of policies Hogsett introduced in May and passed through the City-County Council on Monday, even though none of the new ordinances are enforceable under state law.

The intrigue: Shreve's pitch is that, as a Republican, he can work to carve out exceptions in the state's pro-gun laws with the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly.

  • Shreve, in response to a question from Axios, said he has had "serious conversations with leadership in the House and Senate," but "can't (say) specifically what their caucuses may agree to."

Why it matters: Shreve's left turn on guns is an unequivocal win for Hogsett, showing the mayor is setting the campaign agenda while Shreve is playing catch-up, appealing to a Democratic-leaning electorate.

Between the lines: Hogsett has been running a two-pronged strategy: Link Shreve to the NRA, based on ads Shreve ran while running for a state Senate seat in 2016, and pound the table with new anti-gun policies that are popular in the city and offer the appearance of doing something.

💭 James' thought bubble: Shreve's adoption of gun control rhetoric is remarkable for a Republican.

  • Shreve on Thursday pledged to "ban assault weapon sales," a phrase Republicans routinely decry as meaningless.

What we're watching: As Democrats expressed glee over Shreve's gun concession, conservatives recoiled, with radio station WIBC distilling pro-gun Republicans' anger to a captive audience on the right.

  • Afternoon host Jason Hammer delivered a message to the Shreve campaign: "You lost the election."

Of note: Shreve's agenda also includes the creation of a public safety director role overseeing police and firefighters — a position Hogsett eliminated upon taking office — and hiring hundreds more police officers, a staffing level Hogsett has budgeted for while falling short on hiring and retention.

What they're saying: "My administration won't play politics on this," Shreve said in a speech. "We won't try to shame our rural legislators over policies they chose for their parts of the state. We'll respect them — and ask them to respect us as we pursue solutions unique to the crime challenges facing Marion County."

The other side: "When it comes to Jefferson's relationship with the gun lobby," Hogsett campaign manager Blake Hesch countered, "he was either misleading them in 2016 to get the NRA's highest grade, or he's misleading us now."

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