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Senate shoots down plan for permitless carry of handguns in Indiana

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For the second year in a row, a House-approved proposal to allow all adult Hoosiers legally entitled to own a firearm to carry a handgun in public without obtaining a state license has failed to advance in the Senate.

For the second year in a row, a House-approved proposal to allow all adult Hoosiers legally entitled to own a firearm to carry a handgun in public without obtaining a state license has failed to advance in the Senate.

The end of House Bill 1077 came surprisingly quick.

It was sent by Senate President Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, to the Bray-led Senate Rules Committee Thursday after the deadline already had passed for Senate committees to revise and endorse measures originating in the House.

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As a result, the proposal will not be eligible next week for further amendment by the full Senate, nor will the Senate be able to vote to send the measure to a House-Senate conference committee to try to resolve the differences between the two chambers.

However, because permitless carry was approved by the House, it potentially could be inserted in other legislation still moving through the legislative process at some point before the General Assembly adjourns on or before March 14.

Though for any permitless carry plan to advance to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb — to be signed into law or vetoed — it must be approved with identical language by both the House and the Senate.

Many senators simply seemed ready to be done with the whole issue following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the plan Wednesday that lasted more than nine hours and ended with a 6-5 vote to delete the permitless carry provisions from the legislation.

The remaining portion of the measure merely authorized Indiana residents applying for a handgun carry permit to obtain a "provisional license" they could immediately use for up to 90 days while the applicant was fingerprinted and a background check conducted by the state police.

It was supported in committee by state Sens. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores; Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne; Sue Glick, R-LaGrange; Tim Lanane, D-Anderson; Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago; and Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis.

The move to scrap permitless carry was opposed by state Sens. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo; Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis; Mike Gaskill, R-Pendleton; Eric Koch, R-Bedford; and Mike Young, R-Indianapolis.

Multiple law enforcement professionals vigorously opposed permitless carry, including Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter who said eliminating handgun carry permits will endanger the more than 18,000 police officers serving Hoosiers across the state.

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"If you choose to support this bill you will not be supporting us. You will not be supporting the front-line officer," Carter said.

Supporters of the original measure, sponsored by state Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said they believe it's wrong to condition the constitutional right to keep and bear arms on a requirement that lawful gun owners get permission from the state before carrying a handgun in public.

"This bill is all about the lawful person and trying to respect their rights," Smaltz said.

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