Handgun permit repeal bill advances to Senate

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A bill that would do away with Indiana’s handgun permit requirement will continue to advance through the Indiana General Assembly after getting a majority vote of approval in the Indiana House on Tuesday.

House Bill 1077 would allow anyone age 18 or older to carry a handgun without a license, with exceptions for individuals who have a felony conviction, are facing a restraining order from a court or who have a dangerous mental illness.

Proponents of the measure argue the state’s current permit requirement undermines Second Amendment protections by forcing law-abiding citizens to undergo lengthy police background checks that require them to wait for weeks on end.

Last year, the Indiana House passed similar legislation, but it failed in the state Senate.

The measure appeared before the full House of Representatives for a vote on Tuesday. Earlier this week, Democrats had attempted to block the bill.

On Monday, Rep. Mitch Gore, D-Indianapolis, sought to include an amendment that would have prohibited keeping or storing firearms in a place where a child is likely to gain access. The amendment included exceptions for self-defense, hunting and sport shooting and would not have prohibited people from keeping guns on or near them when home.

“I’m a Second Amendment proponent and a law enforcement officer. I didn’t do this to throw a bomb. I just think it’s reasonable language,” Gore told lawmakers when presenting the proposed change. “It’s not unconstitutional.”

An amendment from Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster, was also rejected after Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, successfully argued that both Gore and Andrade’s amendments were in violation of Rule 80 on issues of germaneness.

However, an amendment brought by Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, on Monday was approved. The change would address any unintended consequences of elevating a juvenile’s crimes if he or she happens to have an unlawful possession while committing a lower-level crime like shoplifting or trespassing, said bill author Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn.

“We want to make sure those minor offenses stay in juvenile court and don’t have any other impact for these juveniles as a result of this language,” Clere said.

Law enforcement groups have voiced opposition to the bill, including the Indiana State Police, Association of Chiefs of Police and Fraternal Order of Police.

Gore on Tuesday reiterated that law enforcement is generally opposed to the bill, “not because they are a bastion of liberalism but because it has serious negative implications” for what police officers do every day.

Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, a Black woman, said she fears for her adult son’s life every time he leaves his home. The only thing that protects him if stopped by police while driving is his firearm permit.

“He had one line of protection by the concealed carry piece. But with this legislation, he will not,” she said.

For his part, House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne said he believes the bill will increase crime on Indiana streets.

Democrats continued to question the bill’s various components on third reading Tuesday to no avail. The measure passed 63-29 and will now move to the Senate for consideration.

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