INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 5, 2016) -- As the new legislative session began, Indiana lawmakers immediately filed bills to further loosen the state's firearm laws.
The session started on the same day as President Barack Obama's announcement that he would strengthen gun control through executive order.
The move by the President drew fire from Republicans across the country, including Governor Mike Pence and fellow Indiana legislators.
"I believe that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens make our communities more safe, not less safe," Pence said.
State Representative Jim Lucas, R-District 69, led the way on the new proposed state laws, filing a bill that would allow Hoosiers to carry a handgun without a license.
"It’s time to start returning people’s rights," Lucas said.
The bill would essentially make a license optional. You could apply for a license if you wanted to carry in other states, but in Indiana you would not need it.
Lucas said the bill wouldn't change the fact that anyone prohibited from carrying a gun would be breaking the law if they did so.
"If a person’s prohibited from carrying, they’re prohibited from carrying. Why affect innocent people?" Lucas said.
Lucas also introduced a bill that would allow people to carry on state property, including public universities, as well as a law that would give a $100 income tax credit to anyone who took a firearms safety course.
On the other side of the Statehouse, State Senator Jim Tomes, R-District 49, authored his own change to Indiana's laws. His bill would take away a restriction that keeps people with alcohol-related offenses from getting a license for a certain amount of time. Questions related to such offenses are currently on the state's license application.
"I wasn’t quite sure why DUI’s would have anything to do with a handgun applications," Tomes said.
Tomes said repeat offenders and those with felony convictions would still be restricted, but misdemeanor or minor offenses like a first DUI would no longer be considered in applications.
All of the bills will need to get through a very packed agenda at the Statehouse this session, but Lucas said he was confident that legislators have the 2nd amendment on their radars.
"73 members in the House have an A rating with the NRA. Indiana is a very gun-friendly state," Lucas said.