INDIANAPOLIS — IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey has penned an OP-ED piece in the Indianapolis Star calling for Governor Eric Holcomb to veto legislation to scrap Indiana’s handgun permit system.

“The best thing he could do for us is to veto this bill and send the message to the community that he supports law enforcement and that he cares about the violent crime in our community,” said Bailey in an interview with Fox 59 News. “We need all the tools available to us and the tool that is now being taken away if this becomes law is going to impede our efforts to link weapons to multiple shooting incidents and to hold accountable those who are committing violent crimes with guns in our city and region.”

The Constitutional Carry law would eliminate the state’s requirement for the permit to carry a handgun in Indiana.

“It’s going to embolden those that are already illegally possessing weapons to walk around freely with them, knowing that law enforcement has limited opportunities to engage them, especially if they’re not involved in any other criminal activity,” said Bailey. “Those who are prohibited from holding a weapon are going to be able to do so freely without many checks in law enforcement and that’s not very good for our community since we are combatting gun violence all over.”

Bailey joined Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter in opposition to the law.

Carter warned lawmakers that the lives of officers would be put in jeopardy if Indiana does away with its handgun permit system.

Hamilton County Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush told Fox 59 News that there is no evidence in the 21 states that have already passed constitutional carry laws that officers face any additional danger.

“Our law enforcement system, our judicial justice system, is founded on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. And really, this bill seeks to put the onus on the government to prove that an individual is committing a crime at the time that they’re found with a handgun,” said Quakenbush.

“There are a couple of provisions in the bill that would be a little bit difficult for law enforcement to enforce right now, but I’m confident, after talking to my colleagues throughout the nation, that systems in government, in law enforcement, can be put in place so that we can help identify those individuals.”

According to State Police records, in 2020 and 2021, 257,121 firearms licenses were issued in Indiana. 22% of all the applications were rejected or never completed and 42% of those rejections were due to the applicant’s felony criminal history or false statements regarding that criminal record. 2,057 existing licenses were brought up for suspension and 94% of those suspensions were upheld.

“According to the Marion County Prosecutors Office, they have over 1,300 open cases involving people without a handgun license and each one of those cases represents at least one gun that’s been taken off the street,” said Bailey. “We tested thousands of guns last year. Many of them came back not linked to just one incident but multiple incidents of gun crimes around our county and around our region.”

Last year, IMPD crime gun detectives seized more than 1,100 guns and shared that intelligence with the newly formed Indiana Crime Guns Task Force which state lawmakers funded for two years at a cost of $10 million in 2021, one year before passing legislation to eliminate the state’s handgun permit system.

If Constitutional Carry becomes law, Bailey said officers may spot a handgun during a traffic stop and not have the ability to investigate further to determine if the gun or the driver are wanted in connection to an unsolved murder.

“The options are limited,” he said. “You can’t really ask them for a handgun license because the law won’t be required anymore and unless there’s information to further that investigation, you conduct your traffic stop, run a records check, and if there’s nothing else prohibiting that person from owning a weapon, a felony count or anything like that, then they get to go on their business.”

Sheriff Quakenbush said the requirement to obtain a gun permit puts the lives of Hoosiers in danger.

“I think this was highlighted around 2020 When you had Black Lives Matter protests and riots going on and you also had the height of COVID,” he said. “The sheriff’s office here in Hamilton County did not stop processing gun permits. There were a lot of agencies throughout the state that did. And so if an individual felt the need to protect themselves in a time where law enforcement in other parts of the community and other parts of the state were not responding to calls for service, they weren’t able to arm themselves. They weren’t able to take the steps necessary to be able to protect themselves and their businesses.”

Governor Holcomb has three choices: he can either sign the law, veto it, or let it take effect without his signature by next Tuesday.