A lawmaker is facing criticism for showing off his firearm at Indiana's Statehouse this week.
State Rep. Jim Lucas says he was demonstrating that firearms are everywhere when he showed his holstered handgun to a group of teens on Tuesday.
A 10-minute video of the Seymour Republican's debate with Muncie high school students was posted on social media Wednesday.
Lucas told Scripps News Indianapolis he was trying to show "that guns are among us, and living in fear of them does not make sense."
Lucas says he met the students in an elevator Tuesday and stepped off to speak with them. The students are from the Burris Laboratory School in Muncie and are members of Students Demand Action.
They were in Indianapolis to urge lawmakers to do more to prevent gun violence as part of a day of action, a spokesperson for event organizers said.
About six minutes into the video, a student tells Lucas that Australia banned guns and hasn't had a mass shooting in years.
"They're not free," Lucas says in the video. "You’re not truly free if you can’t defend yourself."
"So, do you mean by carrying?" a student asks.
"I’m carrying a gun right now," Lucas says, opening his suit jacket and showing a holstered weapon on his hip.
In the video a student's voice says, "See, and nothing about that makes me feel safe."
Lucas told Scripps News Indianapolis he was trying to have an "adult conversation" with the students and didn’t know he was being recorded.
When asked if he would do anything differently regarding his meeting with the students, Lucas said, "Maybe not falsely assume that they were ready to have an adult conversation."
The incident drew criticism on social media, with some accusing him of brandishing, and others calling for him to leave his role.
"Indiana GOP Rep. Jim Lucas, who flashed his gun at kids, needs to step down," said X user Annie Tomlin.
Another X user, Karen Johnson wrote, "So embarrassed that he 'represents Indiana. We can do better than this."
On Facebook, Lucas spoke out after the video made its rounds online.
"I had a very interesting discussion today at the Statehouse with a small group of young ladies and their teacher that were with the group Students Demand Action," Lucas wrote.
"The conversation was respectful, but it was clearly facts, reason and logic vs. plain emotion.
I also learned afterwards that you must always assume that you’re being recorded, because you probably are," he continued.
In a separate post, he went on to say, "I fear for, and pity those that are being indoctrinated to fear that which is their best means of self defense."
This story was originally published by Vic Ryckaert at Scripps News Indianapolis.
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