‘Constitutional carry’ signed into Indiana law

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier gun owners are no longer required to have a permit to carry a handgun within the state after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law Monday.

House Bill 1296 states that the law requiring a permit to carry a handgun in Indiana is repealed and people who are not restricted from possessing or carrying a handgun do not need to obtain a permit from the state to do so.

It goes into effect starting in July.

The bill was co-authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus. Republican Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, joined nine Senate Republicans and all 11 Democratic senators in voting against the bill in the Senate.

District 69 State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, also was a co-author of the bill and said getting the “constitutional carry” law passed has been a top priority of his since being elected into office in 2012.

Upon hearing Holcomb had signed the bill into law, Lucas said he celebrated.

“I poured a shot of my best bourbon and celebrated a 10-year effort by many, many people simply to return our rights to the Constitution where they belong,” he said.

Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter testified against the legislation in the Indiana Senate last month, saying the bill affects public safety and front-line police officers.

Carter, joined by the state’s Fraternal Order of Police, police chiefs association and county prosecutors association, strongly objected to the bill. They maintained the permit repeal would strip officers of a screening tool for quickly identifying dangerous people they encounter who shouldn’t have guns.

Carter, appointed by Holcomb, sharply criticized GOP lawmakers during a state Senate hearing on the bill, blaming “political posturing” for their pushing of the repeal, saying that if lawmakers “support this bill, you will not be supporting us.”

Because of Carter’s statements, Lucas said he didn’t expect the governor to sign the bill but rather become law from the support of the Republican supermajority in Indiana legislation.

Lucas said he is a “constitutional rights nut” instead of a “gun nut.”

“I always found it offensive that we have to pay the government a fee to exercise a constitutionally-guaranteed right,” he said.

The state’s carry permit program remains intact even after the requirement for a permit to carry a handgun is eliminated. Lucas encouraged Indiana gun owners to apply for the free permits so they can be recognized in other states that require them.

While the law is considered a victory for gun rights, Lucas said he doesn’t think there will be much of an impact after Holcomb’s signing.

“I don’t think people are going to notice,” he said. “Criminals are still going to do criminal things. Obviously, we know that felons still carry handguns. There has been no data that has been shown where this will jeopardize police officer lives or put them in any danger.”