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Alcohol, gun laws get review from Indiana lawmakers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Lawmakers gathered at the Statehouse to discuss two hot-button issues on Tuesday: whether the state should look into changing its alcohol laws and whether to repeal a law requiring anyone with a handgun to have a permit to carry.

It was the first day of summer study committee meetings on both of these issues. In the meetings, lawmakers and laymen appointed to the committees will ask experts questions and make recommendations down the road on whether laws need changing.

Tuesday morning, a study committee examined whether Indiana should join 13 other states in not requiring Hoosiers to have permits to carry handguns.

Indiana State Police Maj. Mike White told the committee the change could pose a safety risk for troopers on the side of the road.

“You watch the news and you know what I’m talking about. That is a concern,” he said. “Anything sort of vetting that we can do and assure that even that one person who shouldn’t be carrying doesn’t carry, that’s what we need to do.”

Lawmakers followed up and asked if any statistics prove a system without handgun permits to carry would put officers in more or less danger.

“I do not believe there is a significant study, either point, to either to prove or disapprove,” White said.

You can be denied a permit, for example, if you have been convicted of a violent felony. There are on average 3,000 hearings for denied permits a year. Lawmakers asked if any law change can really help.

“Do you think it’s going to change the mind of that criminal on whether or not they are going to carry a handgun?” asked Rep. Sean Eberhart, a Republican from Shelbyville.

White said there will always be criminals out there but the state police just wanted to alert lawmakers about possible safety issues.

Recommendations on handgun permit licensing will be ready in November.

This afternoon also served as a history lesson on Indiana alcohol laws. While this isn’t the first alcohol summer study, chairperson Beverly Gard said she’s hoping this group will make sound recommendations, especially with fewer lawmakers and more without ties to the alcohol industry.DOCUMENTS: For the evolution on Indiana’s alcohol laws, view the document below

“I think that adds a lot of wealth to the discussions that we are going to have,” said Gard, a Republican from Greenfield.

With issues such as banning alcohol sales on Sunday, cold beer in grocery stores, and happy hours, state officials said the state’s alcohol laws will continue to dominate discussion.

The alcohol commission will be meeting intermittently to discuss possible recommendations for the next two years, so its suggestions are far off.

But, remember, it will be up to the lawmakers to present bills and vote on what laws, if any, should change.

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