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IN Focus: How will lawmakers handle debate over constitutional carry?

INDIANAPOLIS - A panel of state lawmakers has recommended lessening restrictions on firearms in the Hoosier State.  The committee, which was tasked with studying the potential repeal of the laws that require a person to attain a license to carry a handgun, released their recommendation Monday afternoon.

While the recommendation doesn’t endorse the proposal, it does seek to lessen or remove so-called “hurdles” that stand in the way of Hoosier's 2nd Amendment rights.

“It can be very difficult or kind of difficult for some, in particular depending on where you live to get your handgun license. So to the extent that it could be made easier, then maybe we should do that,” said State Sen. Rodric Bray, R- Martinsville.

Bray, who led the committee, identified the fees associated with four year and lifetime permits and fingerprint requirements as potential hurdles to address.

“We’re just recognizing that there are hurdles and we need to debate exactly how to make it easier for folks,” he said.

The recommendation passed with a 15-5 vote.

State Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, was among the "no" votes. She said her decision was due to ambiguous language in the recommendation that could open the door for interpretation that could be used to do away with gun permits.

“I thought the report was murky,” she said, later adding, “We needed to say that we need to have licenses to carry guns period. Otherwise it’ll look like we didn’t make up our minds which we didn’t."

Proponents of the proposal agreed the statehouse recommendation could leave the door open for lawmakers to get rid of permit requirements. Meanwhile, those like the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, who perhaps spoke out the loudest against the proposal, say they count the recommendation as a victory.

In a statement group volunteer Beth Sprunger said:

“After taking a close look at this issue and hearing from Indiana law enforcement, our lawmakers stood up for public safety and refused to give the gun lobby what it wanted. Indiana’s license requirement for carrying a loaded handgun in public is a popular, common-sense law, and law enforcement officials have made it clear that it helps them protect our communities. We’re grateful that the summer study committee’s recommendation includes keeping this critical public safety requirement in place.”