Keep gun license laws, police groups tell lawmakers

By Shelby Mullis
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana law enforcement officials are standing against a proposed measure that would eliminate the current handgun licensing process for Hoosier gun owners.

Representatives from the Indiana State Police, the Indiana State Police Alliance and district departments asked lawmakers Tuesday to consider keeping the law in place at the first of three meetings of the Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy.

Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis.Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com

Existing law requires Hoosier gun license applicants to pass a criminal background check, be at least 18 years old, and must not be a convicted felon, domestic abuser, or suffer from a mental illness. Indiana law enforcement also prohibits people with histories of violent or emotionally unstable conduct or records of alcohol and drug abuse from obtaining a license.

But some Republican lawmakers are seeking ways to repeal this law.

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, introduced a bill to the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year that would have allowed a law-abiding citizen to carry a handgun without a license or permit. The legislation, House Bill 1159, did not get a hearing.

“You don’t need a permit to go buy a gun. What is the point of having a permit?” said Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis. “If you’re a felon, you can’t buy one anyway unless your right’s been restored.”

More than 800,000 license applications have been filed since 2006, said Maj. Mike White, the state police’s chief of staff communications and information system. White described a scenario to legislators at Tuesday’s meeting to demonstrate how little information an on-duty officer would have if the law was repealed.

Without the carry license, White said an on-duty trooper must rely on dispatch when pulling a car over to determine whether a person has a criminal history. He added that the more complicated a person’s criminal background is, the more complicated it is to determine a person’s eligibility to carry a gun.

Bill Owensby, president of Indianapolis’ Fraternal Order of Police, said he finds no issue with the current law requiring gun owners to obtain a permit.

“I think new laws are made to fix something that’s broken,” Owensby said. “I haven’t heard anything that indicates this current law is broken.”

Members of the Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy will meet at the Statehouse on Sept. 7. A final recommendation on the handgun permit requirement will be made in November. If the committee recommends the measure, it must go through the full General Assembly before becoming a law.

Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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