On a sunny spring afternoon, next to an alley on West Washington Street in Indianapolis, a half-dozen people gather around a portable wooden monument with dozens of names written on it. Cars slowly drive by as the people anoint the ground with oil and recite the 23rd Psalm.
This is the site of a recent murder -- a young man gunned down by a shooter who wounded several others -- and thus the site of the latest prayer vigil held by the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis. The vigil concluded with coordinator Joe Zelenka leading a unison reading from the fifth chapter of Matthew -- "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ...."
There has been a lot of such praying this year. As of early this month, there had been 47 homicides in Indianapolis since Jan. 1, far ahead of last year's pace, with 85 percent of the killings committed with firearms.
One would think this kind of carnage occurring in the state's capital would cause our General Assembly and governor to take steps to stop the violence.
"The very next day, as if to provide prophetic warning to Gov. Daniels as he considered whether to sign the bill, a state employee in Portage reacted to a poor work review by going to the parking lot, pulling a shotgun out of his car and firing at his co-workers."
But the gun shows at the Indiana State Fairgrounds continue, with the governor's approval, gun traffickers still make bulk purchases legally in Indiana, and the General Assembly decided this year to hear a "bring a gun to work" bill, designed to block employers from adopting any policy that prohibits employees from having firearms in their locked vehicles parked on company property.
The Chamber of Commerce actively opposed the bill, and a few legislators were not swayed by the lobbying of the powerful National Rifle Association. "I think once and for all we need to tell the NRA, 'Hell, no, you don't have a stranglehold on this chamber,'" Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, told the Gary Post-Tribune.
Yet the bill passed by large majorities in both the Indiana House and Senate.
The very next day, as if to provide prophetic warning to Gov. Daniels as he considered whether to sign the bill, a state employee in Portage reacted to a poor work review by going to the parking lot, pulling a shotgun out of his car and firing at his co-workers.
Surely this frightening object lesson would cause the governor to see that this law is the equivalent of walking across a busy railroad trestle at random times each day --you may be safe for awhile, but soon enough, disaster will occur.
At least that was vigil coordinator Zelenka's thinking when he penned a letter to the governor begging him to consider the effects of the proposed law.
"You have the power to act on behalf of justice and reverse this bill, as well as close the Gun and Knife Shows at the State Fairgrounds," Zelenka wrote. "I will pray that you have the courage to be a peacemaker."
But Daniels signed the bill into law, and Zelenka's prayers were not answered.
Which means he will inevitably be offering up more of them, likely outside a workplace near you.
Fran Quigley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.