INDIANAPOLIS — Gun control supporters gathered Thursday on the eve of the annual National Rifle Association convention in downtown Indianapolis to plead for the gun rights organization's help in stemming a rising tide of homicides in the host city.
"We have too many young people with guns and they're using them to settle disputes," said Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence President Stephen Dunlop.
Dunlop told an audience of about two dozen people that the only answer is to keep guns off the streets. Other speakers said something needs to be done to prevent young black men from shooting other young black men, when both are often teenagers.
Dunlop said that policies endorsed by the NRA haven't worked for Indianapolis and he wants the NRA to know about the rate of homicides that has risen over the past three years in the city.
"The one thing that really works is to remove the guns from the streets," he said.
The audience bowed their heads and listened in silence as Dunlop recited a list of this year's victims.
"The gun supply in our community is obscene," said Regina Marsh, head of the Forest Manor Multi-Service Center. The community center is on Indianapolis' east side, where many fatal shootings this year have occurred.
Democratic state Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis said legislators have preferred expanding gun rights over limiting access to firearms. She noted state laws that have been passed in recent years expanding the area where gun owners can carry concealed weapons and said that a bill she sponsored to require gun buyers to take an eight-hour safety course "went nowhere."
"The NRA is large and organized; we must become large and organized as well," Breaux said.
A message seeking comment was left with an NRA spokesman.
About 70,000 people are expected to attend this weekend's NRA convention, at which several 2016 presidential hopefuls are scheduled to speak.
Several gun control advocacy groups are staging alternative events.