INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana lawmakers were putting the finishing touches Monday on legislation
that would end licensing fees for handguns while allowing people to carry
firearms in churches located on school grounds.
As this year’s
legislative session entered its final days, lawmakers on both side of the
gun debate openly bickered with people who testified both for and against
the bill during an intense joint committee meeting that included members of
both the House and the Senate.
groups voiced serious concerns about the bill since license fees are a major
source of funding for training, including active shooter responses training.
Association President Tim Troyer chastised lawmakers for failing to offer
even a “hollow promise” that training money would be found elsewhere.
“Now, of all times,
is not the time to be taking that away,” said Troyer, who is also the
sheriff of Steuben County.
moves come after GOP leaders in the House and Senate scuttled gun rights
legislation in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, which left
itching to debate a raft of amendments to the gun bills, but Republican
leaders pulled the plug on the bill while vowing to develop a pared down
version that they would slip into an existing bill in the session’s final
“We are going to
work on that over the next 36 hours and see if we can make those concepts
reduce them to writing,” said House Public Policy committee Chairman Ben
Smaltz, an Auburn Republican.
The proposal now
would allow Indiana residents to obtain lifetime handgun permit free of
charge. But it no longer includes a measure that would have eliminated some
point-of-sale background checks.
The bill would also
allow churchgoers to carry guns during worship services and church events
held on school grounds. Currently, the governing body of a school or
district must give authorization to carry a gun on school grounds. But the
bill would exempt those attending church in many instances.
The bill would
still allow churches to bar people from carrying guns to services.
The group from Moms
Demand Action for Gun Sense In America voiced concern about allowing guns in
churches that are also in school properties. They said they would fear
dropping their children off to schools knowing there are regular citizens
carrying guns in there.
about eliminating funding for local police through the elimination of fees.
Rep. Matt Pierce, a
Democrat member of the conference committee said that there’s no guarantee
that the Legislature will deal with the funding matter during the next
budget year in 2019. “It’s kind of like a promise for something happening
later versus actually taking care of it now,” Pierce said.
Smaltz said after
the hearing that he would consider revising the bill to make the removal of
the fee effective in 2019 so that the law enforcement would still have the
funding in place for this year.
Both the House and
the Senate must sign off on the final proposal before the session ends