A special legislative study committee discussed whether to eliminate Indiana’s license requirement to carry a handgun. The proposed move is part of a nationwide shift known as “constitutional carry.”
Twelve states currently have laws allowing people to carry guns in public without a permit. Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) proposed a bill to eliminate Indiana’s restrictions last session. He says the right to carry is clear in the U.S. Constitution and in Indiana.
“Article 1 Section 32 of the Indiana State Constitution reads that people should have the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state… now aren’t the words shall and shall not absolute?” Lucas says.
Numerous law enforcement professionals testified against repealing Indiana’s law that requires people to undergo a background check. Indiana State Police Maj. Mike White says it’s a safety concern.
“Any sort of vetting that we can do and make sure that even that one person who shouldn’t be carrying, doesn’t carry, that’s what we need to do,” White says.
The NRA testified in favor of a repeal. It argues states that have changed this gun law haven’t seen an increase in crime.
Attorney Guy Relford specializes in second amendment cases and says he’s defending a man who may face jail time for having a handgun without a license.
“As a person with no criminal history whatsoever, it’s hard to explain to Max as his lawyer how he can be prosecuted for a crime and explain why the state of Indiana wants to put him in jail for up to a year,” Relford says.
The committee is charged with considering the issue as it relates to revenue, suicide and crime. Another meeting is planned for next month.
More than 800,000 Hoosiers currently have lifetime licenses to carry guns.