Hoosiers will no longer have to get a permit to carry a handgun in public under a bill headed to the governor’s desk.
After quick and relatively easy passage by the House Tuesday, the Senate debated the bill on the floor – for the first time – for nearly three hours.
Almost every law enforcement organization in the state opposes the bill. They argue the permit system is the only way for frontline officers to know whether someone is allowed to carry a handgun.
But Sen. Jack Sandlin (R-Indianapolis), a former law enforcement officer, said police don't rely on the permit database.
"They depend upon their training in how they respond," Sandlin said.
Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) sharply disagreed. She said she wants police to have every tool they can.
"As my police chief said, 'Please give more weight to those on the streets and the frontlines.' I'm going to," Brown said. "I'm going to vote no. I'm going to back the blue."
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Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) said the permit system is only a burden on law-abiding citizens who shouldn’t have to ask the government for the right to carry.
“The bad guys, the criminals, the folks with a criminal record that are prohibited persons are walking the streets tonight, in Indianapolis, without a permit,” Freeman said.
About 13,000 Hoosiers had their handgun carry permits rejected or revoked in the last two years. Under the bill, opponents said, they wouldn’t know they’re barred from carrying.
People who aren't allowed to carry in public under the bill include those who've been convicted of felonies, people with a history of mental health challenges and those with records of alcohol or substance abuse.
Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) pleaded with his colleagues to reject the measure.
“This will be dangerous," Melton said. "Have you ever seen a friend take their last breath from gun violence?”
The bill passed the Senate 30-20, with nine Republicans joining Democrats against it.