Am I registered to vote?

Being an Indiana Citizen starts with registering to vote. Register here or confirm registration.

House bill that would repeal handgun licensing requirement is gutted in Senate committee

UPDATE: An Indiana House bill that would repeal the state’s handgun licensing requirement has been heavily amended in a Senate committee.

As amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee during an eight-hour hearing that ended late Wednesday, House Bill 1077 would maintain the requirement but allow a provisional license to be issued while certain applications are pending.

The amended bill is now eligible for a vote by the full Senate.

***

UPDATE: In a 64-29 vote along party lines, the Indiana House Tuesday passed House Bill 1077, which would repeal the state’s licensing requirement for carrying a handgun.

***

EARLIER: The Indiana House amended a controversial handgun bill Monday, setting the stage for a final vote as soon as Tuesday.

House Bill 1077 would repeal the state’s licensing requirement for carrying a handgun  while setting penalties for those who do not possess them legally.

Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, proposed an amendment that if a juvenile is caught in a misdemeanor crime, they aren’t charged as a felon for also having a handgun.

“We wouldn’t want to charge juveniles because they happen to have a handgun on them while committing a crime,” Clere said. “We just want to make sure that those minor offenses don’t have other implications for that juvenile as a result of this language.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, supported Clere’s amendment.

“It should not elevate that child into a situation that is hard for them to recover,” Smaltz said.

Clere’s amendment passed while the other two failed.

Rep. Mitch Gore, D-Indianapolis, proposed an amendment on safely storing guns at home when owners aren’t present.

“I think that should be the standard for all Hoosiers,” Gore said. “Children access these unsecure guns in their home or the home of a family member.”

His amendment was blocked after House Speaker Todd Huston ruled that it was not germane to the bill.

Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster, proposed an amendment on discharging a firearm.

“Who knowingly discharges a firearm or intentionally discharges a loaded firearm without legal justification in a city or town commits a dangerous discharge,” Andrade said.

His amendment also was blocked for not being germane to the bill.

The bill was moved to third reading for a final vote in the House. If passed, it would then go to the Senate for consideration. — Alexa Shrake

***

EARLIER: An Indiana House committee heard Wednesday from supporters and opponents of proposed legislation that would eliminate the requirement of licenses to carry handguns, a proposal that stopped short of passage in the Indiana General Assembly last year.

Committee chairman Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, author of House Bill 1077, said the legislation would “thread the needle” of how to defend oneself under the law;  21 states have enacted permitless carry of handguns, and none have repealed it.

After a meeting that went into the evening, the committee approved the bill in a 9-3 vote along party lines.

Proponents of the bill said showing a police officer a license to carry and use a gun is not enough to clear oneself of conviction, as felonies can still be committed by law-abiding gun owners. Background checks would still be mandatory for purchasing a gun, and the burden of proof would be on law enforcement to prove whether or not the individual is lawfully carrying a firearm..

Will Fight, director of legislation for Hoosier Gun Rights, a gun rights advocacy group, testified in support of HB 1077 and constitutional carry. Fight described Second Amendment rights as God-given, not “subject to the will of the state.” He added constitutional carry would be a preventative measure to reduce violent crime and gun violence statistics.

Hamilton County Sheriff Dennis Quakenbush also spoke in support of the bill, stating personal protection is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. “When seconds count, the police are minutes away,” he said.

In the midst of 2020’s protests after the police shooting death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many applied for gun permits, he said. According to The Guardian, there was an increase in first-time gun owners in 2020, with 5 million Americans purchasing their first gun, more than twice the previous year. This created a work backlog in Hamilton County, where police were forced to deny requests. Quakenbush argued that a permit system encourages complacency on behalf of the police, who may not thoroughly fulfill requests.

Maj. Robert Simpson (above) represented the Indiana State Police in opposing HB 1077. Simpson said over 10,000 license applicants have been rejected in Indiana, with 30% of that number rejected because of prior felonies. According to The Indianapolis Star, 2020 saw some 4% of the state’s 120,000 gun license applications denied.

El’ad Nichols-Kaufman, a Marion County student, said that “the state of Indiana has a gun violence problem.” He cited the state firearms death rate, which is 15.3% of total deaths.

The national rate is 12%, and Marion County’s is even higher, with 23.4% of total deaths attributed to firearms.

Another opponent was Destiny Wells, a mother, former combat vet and attorney. Wells said her military experience taught her the value and proper handling of weapons through training and expressed fears about her child’s safety at daycare.

Guns, she said, were “ultimately invented for war,” and “only those trained to respect the weapon are the ones allowed to carry it.”

Alexa Shrake, Gage Deiser, Ariana Lovitt and Maddie Alexander are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. 

Share with: