In a recent column in The Times, Rich James wrote an article that had so much misinformation that it is either the pinnacle of irresponsible journalism or intentional lies. His statements, “Anyone with a criminal history or mental disorder would be able to pack a piece in public in Indiana if Lucas gets his way” and “If Lucas had his way, those who were denied a permit could be walking down Main Street with guns. That could well put law enforcement officers at risk, which is one reason we have a gun-permitting process,” are both false, outright lies and imply that I am risking officer safety.

I find this both offensive and repugnant.

I will be presenting a bill in the next legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly. That bill is referred to as "Constitutional Carry," to restore a constitutional right. Article 1 Section 32 states, “The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.”

This is very plainly written and means what it says. If this right is open to interpretation to be licensed, then so are our other rights: going to church, speaking freely, freedom of the press and voting. Imagine the outcry if those rights were to be held to the same licensing requirements and punishment definitions that we have to carry a handgun.

Currently, to lawfully carry a handgun, one must fill out multiple forms, schedule to get fingerprinted and pay the state a fee to get a license to carry a handgun. Indiana is a "shall issue" state, which means that as long as you are not a prohibited person, you will get your license. This process is essentially forcing innocent people to jump through hoops and pay to prove their innocence to exercise a constitutionally protected right.

My bill simply removes these requirements.

When my bill becomes law, if you are prohibited from carrying a handgun, you would still be prohibited from carrying. It has been proven countless times that a licensing process does not stop those who have no regard for the law.

And how often do we read of criminal gun charges being pleaded down or dismissed?

James is incredibly loose with his accusation of me being bent on “turning Indiana into the Wild West." The facts show that the 13 states that have adapted Constitutional Carry do not turn into the Wild West.

Vermont has never required a license since 1791, and the states that have had Constitutional Carry long enough to get data from — Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming — have actually shown handgun homicides decreasing since adaption.

The majority of the other states returning our constitutional rights within the past few years also are not showing the bloodshed that James is fear-mongering about.

If I were as irresponsible with my handguns as James is with his keyboard, I would be in prison and lose my right to carry. Maybe it’s time to hold the media to the same standards they demand of gun owners.

Jim Lucas represents District 69 in the Indiana House of Representatives. The opinions are the writer's.

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