IN Focus: Lawmakers discuss gun, alcohol issues at Statehouse

INDIANAPOLIS - A push to allow Hoosiers to carry handguns without a license was the focus of a nearly five-hour committee hearing at the statehouse Tuesday.

"Constitutional carry" is based on the idea that the Second Amendment already gives people the right to carry a handgun, so additional steps such as licensing are unnecessary.

State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) authored a bill during the last legislative session to repeal the law that requires Hoosiers to have a gun permit. The bill was sent to committee for further discussion.

"We have the State of Indiana that forces law abiding citizens to pay a fine to the state, get fingerprinted and get a permission slip to prove our innocence," Lucas said.

But, opponents of constitutional carry say the licensing process allows Indiana State Police to vet people who want to carry a gun. Several representatives from groups like the Indiana State Police Alliance, which represents around 1,100 troopers, and the Indiana Association of Police Chiefs testified at the Tuesday hearing in hopes of keeping the current system in place.

"[Licensing] allows for us to vet or look into their criminal history and make sure they don’t have mental health issues that would eliminate them from being able to safely use a handgun," said Rob Wiley, Chief of Police of the Kendallville Police Department. "In 2016, there were over 3,000 people who applied and were denied licenses because of those very issues."

Local women who are a part of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America also attended the hearing.

"I would just plea, as a member of a community, that individual rights need to be balanced against rights of the community," said Rachel Guglielmo, volunteer with the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "I have ten-year-old triplets and their safety, their welfare and the welfare of my community and my state is more important to me than anything."

Still, permitless carry supporters took to the podium and said there is no evidence that crime has spiked in the 13 states where residents are allowed to carry guns without a license.

"The people we need to be concerned about aren’t affected by laws," Lucas said. "Those are the ones we need to keep an eye on."

Lucas said he plans to introduce constitutional carry legislation during the next session.

Another committee hearing on the issue is scheduled for September 7.

In the video above, we interview Rep. Lucas and show you highlights of another key hearing last week at the Statehouse, dealing with the cold beer controversy as advocates continue to push for an update to the state's liquor laws.