ILNews

Domestic violence bill joined to study of ‘constitutional carry’ effort

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Supporters of a bill that would have allowed victims of domestic violence to carry handguns without a license say a broader effort to eliminate all carry permit requirements delayed needed protections for a vulnerable population and could muddle the issues.

“That bill was doing well on its own,” Tami Watson said of House Bill 1071, which would have permitted a person with a protection order against someone to carry a firearm without a license for 60 days. An 18-year Indiana State Police officer who now is a firearms instructor at Watson-Chambers Defense Institute in Columbus, Watson testified for the bill after it passed the House, and she was convinced it could easily pass the Senate.

She was disappointed a Senate committee amended the bill, steering it toward a study committee that also would look at “constitutional carry” — scrapping the legal requirement that any eligible person obtain a license to carry a firearm. She called it a “huge distraction” for the Legislature.

guns-watson-tami-fb-15col.jpg Former Indiana State Police officer Tami Watson, now a firearms instructor in Columbus, supports a proposal to allow domestic violence victims to carry handguns without a permit. (Photo submitted)

“This bill has been wrapped up with constitutional carry and has been poorly branded,” Watson said. “This is a victim’s rights bill, not a Second Amendment bill.” A bill that would have made constitutional carry Indiana law, House Bill 1159, failed to get a hearing in the General Assembly this session. The bill Watson lobbied for, HB 1071, was still in the reconciliation process between House and Senate versions at IL deadline.

But the bill Watson and others called a victim protection bill also has its detractors — domestic violence victim advocates who say introducing guns into violent situations can further risk victims’ safety. Meanwhile, opponents of wider gun rights generally are organizing to oppose both the domestic violence aspect of HB 1071 and constitutional carry. They see a summer study committee as an opportunity to press legislators on safeguards they want to become law.

“We are looking forward to having a robust conversation about all of these issues,” said Stephanie Grabow, Indiana chapter leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. About 50 members of the group met with lawmakers April 4 to advocate for a measure that didn’t get a hearing this session: House Bill 1534, which would have required removal of firearms in domestic violence situations where a protection order is issued. Whether guns are removed now is left to a judge’s discretion.

“We know a majority of Hoosiers, including a majority of gun owners, want better, stronger gun laws to keep our families safe, and we want our elected leaders to listen to their constituents,” she said.

Personal stories

Among the Moms Demand Action members who converged on the Capitol was Danyette Smith, who had been in a 12-year abusive relationship before she obtained a protection order. “When that gun was placed to my head and I was told if I leave I would be killed, that’s when the level changed,” she said.

In her case, though, guns weren’t removed from the perpetrator, so she remained fearful. A law requiring gun removal in situations like hers “would have given me a little more relief. When I took my kids to school, I wouldn’t have had to look over my shoulder,” she said.

guns-grabow-stephanie-15col.jpg Stephanie Grabow leads advocates who earlier this month urged lawmakers to support measures they say will reduce gun violence. (IL photo/Dave Stafford)

Grabow said it was important for members of her group to talk with lawmakers about the connections between guns and domestic violence and to raise their voices against measures they consider bad policy. “We understand that when guns are introduced into a domestic violence situation, a woman is five times more likely to be killed, so we’re here educating our lawmakers about this fact,” she said.

A gun, Grabow said, is “more likely to be taken away from the victim and used on her than she is to use it in her own defense.”

Dawn Hillyer of Fort Wayne owns Hiding Hilda, a business that makes and sells purses and accessories for women who carry. Like Watson, she was a stalking victim who supports allowing domestic violence victims to carry a weapon without a permit if they would otherwise qualify. Such a law would safeguard victims from fear they could be victimized again if they chose to protect themselves with a gun before the weeks it often takes to receive a carry permit.

hillyer-dawn-mug Hillyer

“To say that nobody should have that option is ridiculous to me,” Hillyer said. She’s offended by advocates who oppose the bill and say “women are too emotional to be responsible gun owners. … Honestly, I think it’s absolutely demeaning,” she said. “You can’t put us all in one box.”

Hillyer said she wishes senators had passed the bill and not mingled it with a broader gun-rights measure.

Constitutional carry

Second Amendment attorney Guy Relford testified in favor of HB 1071 and also supports constitutional carry. He said he was disappointed, too, that the domestic violence victim bill didn’t get a vote on its merits. “I looked at it as, hey, it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “These kinds of bills only give freedom to law-abiding citizens.”

He agrees it’s possible the domestic violence legislation could be overshadowed by constitutional carry, which is opposed by Indiana State Police, the Indiana Sheriffs Association and other law enforcement groups that traditionally have significant clout at the Statehouse. Authorities fear they could be left to try to determine whether someone is legally able to carry a gun if the permit was no longer required.

Nevertheless, constitutional carry is now law in 12 states, according to the National Rifle Association.

Relford said it’s a misconception that constitutional carry would make it easier for criminals to carry. It’s likewise a misconception that all gun licensing would end. Licenses still would be issued for reciprocity when crossing state lines, for instance. He said people who would be barred from obtaining a permit don’t typically register anyway.

“When you think about it, what other constitutional right do you have to pay a fee to the state and bear the burden of establishing your eligibility to exercise that constitutional right?” he said. Fees range from $40 for a four-year permit to $125 for a lifetime permit, and the fees fund law enforcement firearm training.

Grabow wonders, though, what’s to gain from scrapping a requirement that people obtain a license to carry a gun.

“We know that the current system we have for permitting works, and it keeps guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and we think we should not undermine the current permitting system that’s in place,” she said.

“We’re going to continue to show up at every hearing. We’re going to testify, and we’re going to work to keep our communities safe.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The Department of Education still has over $100 million of ITT Education Services money in the form of $100+ million Letters of Credit. That money was supposed to be used by The DOE to help students. The DOE did nothing to help students. The DOE essentially stole the money from ITT Tech and still has the money. The trustee should be going after the DOE to get the money back for people who are owed that money, including shareholders.

  2. Do you know who the sponsor of the last-minute amendment was?

  3. Law firms of over 50 don't deliver good value, thats what this survey really tells you. Anybody that has seen what they bill for compared to what they deliver knows that already, however.

  4. My husband left me and the kids for 2 years, i did everything humanly possible to get him back i prayed i even fasted nothing worked out. i was so diver-stated, i was left with nothing no money to pay for kids up keep. my life was tearing apart. i head that he was trying to get married to another lady in Italy, i look for urgent help then i found Dr.Mack in the internet by accident, i was skeptical because i don’t really believe he can bring husband back because its too long we have contacted each other, we only comment on each other status on Facebook and when ever he come online he has never talks anything about coming back to me, i really had to give Dr.Mack a chance to help me out, luckily for me he was God sent and has made everything like a dream to me, Dr.Mack told me that everything will be fine, i called him and he assured me that my Husband will return, i was having so many doubt but now i am happy,i can’t believe it my husband broke up with his Italian lady and he is now back to me and he can’t even stay a minute without me, all he said to me was that he want me back, i am really happy and i cried so much because it was unbelievable, i am really happy and my entire family are happy for me but they never know whats the secret behind this…i want you all divorce lady or single mother, unhappy relationship to please contact this man for help and everything will be fine i really guarantee you….if you want to contact him you can reach him through dr.mac@yahoo. com..,

  5. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

ADVERTISEMENT