Indiana officials consider ridding of handgun carry licenses

Police officials in Indiana say a proposal to eliminate the state's handgun carry license requirement for civilians could result in a loss of revenue.

The Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy heard presentations on the proposal Thursday, The Tribune-Star reported. The proposal seeks to repeal the law requiring a person to obtain a license in order to carry a handgun in the state.

An Indiana State Police fiscal impact statement shows the department anticipates losing $5.2 million next year and $5.3 million in 2019 if the bill passes.

A four-year license is $40 in state and local fees, and a lifetime license is $125 in fees. The funds are used to pay for firearms training and supplies, such as ammunition.

"Without that funding, the cost for those items would shift back onto the taxpayers," said Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing.

Requiring a carry license also benefits public safety, said Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse. The application process comes with a criminal background check that ensures people follow proper procedures, he said.

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Ewing said the permitting process isn't a good way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals because most people who intend to commit a crime likely aren't in possession of a license to carry. However, having a permit can make a difference in police encounters, he said.

"It eases your mind if someone is forthcoming and shows you their permit, along with their driver's license and registration, during a traffic stop," Ewing said.

Terre Haute businessman Steve Ellis owns Top Guns, a gun store, indoor range and training center. He said Indiana is a "shall issue" state. That means a permit will be granted unless an applicant is categorically prohibited, which can happen because of criminal history.

"So, if that's the case, then why make people go through the hassle and fee when the state is going to issue the permit anyway?" Ellis said. "All it's done is put an inconvenient hurdle for those who follow the law."

The current law doesn't require handgun safety or proficiency in order to acquire a license, Ellis said.

A committee hearing on the proposed legislation is scheduled Oct. 12.

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