From: State Rep. Jim Lucas, District 69
After two hearings on constitutional carry, I am amazed at the amount of misunderstanding and misrepresentation still being shown on this issue and want to set the record straight on several points.
Article 1 Section 32 of the Indiana Constitution specifically reads, “The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.” Shall is absolute language in law.
However, to lawfully carry a handgun in Indiana, the state currently requires an individual to fill out lengthy forms, schedule to get fingerprinted and pay the state a fee to exercise this constitutionally protected right. Imagine the outcry if we held our other rights like going to church, voting, being secure in our homes or freedom of the press to these same requirements, fees and penalties.
One of the most egregious misrepresentations told by many, particularly the media, is that constitutional carry will allow everyone, even felons, to carry. This is completely false. Indiana is a “shall issue” state, which means that as long as a person is not prohibited from carrying, they will get their license to carry a handgun. A prohibited person cannot lawfully carry a handgun and will be breaking the law if they do so, just as they are now. The only people affected by the passage of this law will be innocent, law-abiding citizens.
Constitutional carry does not have anything to do with purchasing a firearm, only the lawful carrying of a firearm. Lawfully obtaining a firearm and carrying a firearm are completely different issues and should not be construed as the same thing.
An additional misrepresentation is that there could be an increased risk to law enforcement officer safety. Hours of testimony have produced zero evidence of constitutional carry putting law enforcement lives at risk. Currently, there are 13 states with constitutional carry. Since 1791, Vermont has never required a license, and it is considered the safest state in the nation. The facts and not “peer reviewed” studies actually show a decrease in gun homicides in many states after passing constitutional carry.
One tremendous boost to this issue is a recent unanimous Indiana Supreme Court ruling in Pinner v. Indiana stating that police cannot stop an individual simply for carrying a firearm. This ruling resolutely affirms and recognizes our right to carry.
Hoosiers have proven their commitment to gun rights. The Indiana State Police report over 815,000 Hoosier adults have a license to carry a handgun, and at 16 percent of the adult population, Indiana has the highest percentage of adults lawfully carrying a handgun. These facts also show women as the fastest-growing segment obtaining a license to carry a handgun, with a 130 percent increase in just the past few years.
As a Marine and a legislator, I will steadfastly pursue the restoration of our constitutionally protected right out of principle and honor my oaths to support and defend both our federal and state constitutions. It really is that simple, and the facts back me up.