INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
An Indiana legislative panel proved gun shy Monday, when members avoided
directly endorsing a proposal that would eliminate Indiana’s law requiring a
license to carry a handgun in public.
The Joint Committee
on Judiciary and Public Policy had spent more than 10 hours in recent months
hearing testimony on the proposal by Republican Rep. Jim Lucas, of Seymour,
who argues that the license requirement infringes on the U.S. Constitution’s
But rather than
make a specific recommendation for the legislative session that begins in
January, the panel voted 15-5 on Monday to back the removal of what a
resolution calls licensing “hurdles” for those who want to carry a handgun.
Left unsaid in the
resolution is what those “hurdles” are.
Assembly should remove hurdles that restrict the ability of law abiding
Hoosiers to exercise their State and Federal Constitutional Rights to bear
arms,” the resolution reads.
In the very next
paragraph, seemingly contradictory language calls for maintaining the
state’s “current licensing system.”
residents who wish to carry a handgun in public must fill out an
application, get fingerprinted and pay a fee, which can top $125. Violent
felons and those with domestic battery convictions can be barred from
obtaining a license, committee members said.
Sen. Rodric Bray
says eliminating the license requirement altogether - which supporters refer
to as “constitutional carry” - would definitely remove a hurdle. But the
Martinsville Republican, who chaired the committee, said lawmakers may
prefer something as simple as lowering the cost of a handgun license, or
streamlining the fingerprinting process.
Bray says the
purpose of the resolution was to “shine a light on the issue.”
“There are multiple
ways to resolve it. Constitutional carry is probably a way to resolve it,
but it’s not the only way,” he added.
For his part, Lucas
claimed victory following Monday’s hearing.
“I don’t think
there’s any ambiguity,” said Lucas, who also suggested that opponents of his
proposal were “spinning” what was actually included in the committee’s
“The way I read it,
it recommends doing away with the hurdle: having to get a license,” Lucas
vague and seemingly contradictory language in the resolution, the
anti-violence group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America claimed
“Lawmakers stood up
for public safety and refused to give the gun lobby what it wanted,” the
group said in a statement. “Indiana’s license requirement for carrying a
loaded handgun in public is a popular, common-sense law, and law enforcement
officials have made it clear that it helps them protect our communities.
We’re grateful that the summer study committee’s recommendation includes
keeping this critical public safety requirement in place.”
Lucas, who comes
from the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, pushed a similar bill
last session. The measure died, but its popularity led GOP leaders who
control the Statehouse to have the committee study the matter. The
culmination of that process was the resolution approved Monday.
sought to publicize his cause, suggesting he would author a bill requiring
journalists to be licensed to report the news. While Lucas said the proposal
would clearly violate the Constitution’s free speech and free press
protections, he says it made a powerful rhetorical point.
“It was amazing how
all of the sudden media and legal experts all across the country said that
language was unconstitutional,” Lucas said. “The point being, either
constitutional rights are protected, or they are all at risk.”