By Nicole Hernandez
INDIANAPOLIS — General Assembly staff can now pack heat inside and around the Statehouse.
Senate Bill 43 immediately went into effect after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law Wednesday.
The bill, authored by Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, allows the employees to carry guns inside the Statehouse if they have a valid license. Lawmakers, judges and law enforcement are already allowed to carry firearms in the capitol building.
“They put in long hours especially during the session and they’re walking blocks away. Often times after midnight,” Holcomb said during a news conference Tuesday. “I can sympathize with someone who wants to be able to protect themselves and feel secure.”
Earlier this month, three teens, ages 17 to 18, were injured in a shooting outside the Statehouse near North Capital Avenue and West Ohio Street.
Tomes said it’s incidents like this that make the new law relevant.
“There is an element of danger everywhere we go and all we’re trying to establish here is that lawful citizens at the Statehouse should have the same opportunities to be able to protect themselves,” Tomes said.
Opponents argued that allowing more guns into the Statehouse could increase the chances of an accidental shooting. The General Assembly, however, disagreed. The Senate voted 39-7 and the House voted 76-16 to advance the bill.
Statehouse employees will have the opportunity to attend voluntary training sessions and spend time at the gun range.
“I’m hoping that we’ll see nothing happen. I’d like to see our society change to the point where we don’t even need to consider things like this,” Tomes said.
Nicole Hernandez is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.