INDIANAPOLIS –– Should Indiana get rid of the license to carry a gun in public?
Supporters of a bill that would remove the permit process said permits punish the law abiding citizen, but those opposed claim the screening process keeps Hoosiers safe.
“Anything that can make things easier for somebody who is a law abiding citizen is always something that I think I’m going to try to support,” said Indianapolis gun owner Eric Housman.
Like many who support getting rid of permits to carry a gun, he doesn’t think he should have to go through a screening process to practice his second amendment right.
“I think we are all very strong supporters of the second amendment,” responded Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly with the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police. “By repealing processes like this that are good screening mechanisms, we are going to put more guns out on the street, and there are going to be people that should not be carrying them will be carrying them.”
Flannelly said his department alone denied 55 people from getting carry permits last year based on their background check. But the bill does still make it illegal for people with certain criminal backgrounds to carry a gun in public, they just need to know Indiana law well enough to know they don’t qualify.
“There are 16 states that have already adopted constitutional carry,” said Guy A. Relford, the CEO and co-founder of the 2A Project and an Indiana second amendment lawyer. “There is no data from any of those states that says that their violent crime rate went up, that says that their officer shootings went up in terms of officers being shot, that their handgun crimes generally went up.”
However, Jody L. Madeira, Ph.D. professor of law at the Indiana University Mauer School of Law, said she has seen research that raises red flags in those states.
“Just as a social science researcher well versed in peer reviewed studies that suggest that homicide with firearm and suicide with firearm increase dramatically in states that either get rid of permits to purchase or permits to carry,” said Madeira.
Flannelly remains especially concerned about law enforcement.
“We are going to remove a tool from our law enforcement officers to help make communities safer and actually help keep our police officers safer,” said Flannelly.
“I say that tool should have never existed in the first place,” responded Relford. “When you are talking about a law abiding citizen who is only doing what the constitution guarantees him a right to do.”
He said it doesn’t make sense for people to think a permit process would stop bad actors from carrying guns.
“Opponents to this bill will have you believe that someone who is not afraid of the death penalty, not afraid of life in prison, is afraid of a class A misdemeanor. That’s non-sensible,” said Relford.
Housman agreed and fears this will hurt innocent people who need to carry guns now.
“There’s that waiting period there, and anything can happen,” said Housman.
“We’re talking weeks, not months or years,” responded Flannelly.
“If I have a constitutionally protected right, why do I have to ask permission from the government in order to exercise that right if I’m a law abiding citizen who is not prohibited by either state and federal law from carrying a gun?” said Relford.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said he believes Hoosiers have a constitutional right to carry the way it is right now. Holcomb said he will be paying close attention to this bill and its final language.
A House Public Policy Committee listened to hours of testimony Wednesday on both sides of the bill but will vote at another time.
We will continue following this as it moves through the process.