Indiana senators blocking bill that would repeal state’s gun permit requirement

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The Republican-dominated Indiana Senate is blocking a bill that would repeal the state’s permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public.

Republicans easily pushed the proposal through the Indiana House, but Senate leaders have decided against taking up the bill in the final weeks of this year’s legislative session even though it was co-sponsored by 21 GOP members of the 50-person Senate.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Liz Brown told The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette that the panel wouldn’t consider the bill before Thursday’s deadline for action. Instead, the Senate will support eliminating the $75 fee for a lifetime permit after the Legislature eliminated the state’s five-year permit fee in a 2019 bill.

Rep. Ben Smaltz, an Auburn Republican who is the lead sponsor of this year’s bill, argued that criminals don’t obey the permitting law and that it undermines Second Amendment protections by forcing law-abiding citizens to obtain the permits. The bill would allow anyone age 18 or older to carry a handgun except for reasons such as having a felony conviction, facing a restraining order from a court or having a dangerous mental illness.

Smaltz said many people have waited months for a permit because of a backlog in getting fingerprints and background checks.

“Why not give the lawful good guy a break for once?” Smaltz said.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray pointed to opposition from the Indiana State Police superintendent, the state police chiefs association and the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police.

Bray said he shared the concerns of those groups over the bill’s requirement that the state create a database so that police officers could immediately know if they are encountering people prohibited from having firearms.

“These groups have said that, due to a variety of reasons including the current state of technology and federal laws governing the use of and access to information, creation of such a database is not possible at this time,” Bray said. “Law enforcement believes being able to access this information in the middle of the night during a traffic stop is important and thus, so do I.”

Supporters say 19 states currently don’t require handgun permits. Similar bills allowing permitless gun carry have been pushed by Republican lawmakers in several states this year.