INDIANAPOLIS — Lacking the votes needed to permanently eliminate Indiana's handgun carry license, House gun rights advocates settled Wednesday for tweaks they believe will make the state's licensing system more friendly to gun owners.
House Bill 1424, which originally proposed junking the requirement that Hoosiers be licensed by the state to carry a handgun in public, was amended by the House Public Policy Committee to lengthen the term of one type of license and eliminate the fee for a lifetime carry license.
Specifically, the current four-year license would become a five-year license, and the state would seek federal approval to exempt five-year license holders from having to obtain separate National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) approvals every time they purchase a firearm.
Federal law does not permit lifetime license holders to be exempt from NICS checks, so state Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, changed the legislation to instead scuttle the $140 cost of obtaining a lifetime carry license.
"To keep and bear arms is a constitutional right," Wesco said. "The idea behind this is to remove the impediments to an individual exercising their constitutional right."
Organizations representing Indiana police and county sheriffs strongly opposed the original measure eliminating carry licenses due to the anticipated negative impact on public and officer safety.
However, those groups said they can support Wesco's revised proposal, provided the local share of lifetime carry license fees is replaced by other state funds.
The legislation now advances to the full, Republican-controlled House for possible additional revisions and a decision on whether to send it to the Republican-controlled Senate.