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General Assembly sends permitless carry bill to governor

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A three-hour Senate debate on Tuesday evening ended with lawmakers voting to do away with the state’s concealed carry permit requirement.

The vote caps roughly two weeks of procedural maneuvering that began when a Senate panel rewrote the bill too close to a key deadline. Lawmakers brought back the bill through the conference committee process, which resolves differences between House and Senate versions of legislation.

After first gutting a Senate bill to make room for the permitless carry language, lawmakers eventually pasted the language into a House bill that originally dealt with multiple employer welfare agreements.

As happened at the committee stage, lawmakers clashed over whether the bill is in the best interests of public safety and law enforcement.

The bill’s opponents pointed to testimony by all of the state’s law enforcement advocacy groups, multiple police chiefs, and Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter stating the bill would make it harder for them to determine whether someone was allowed to carry a gun.

Democratic senators Fady Qaddoura and Eddie Melton recounted the ways gun violence had impacted their lives personally.

“Have you ever seen a friend take their last breath from gun violence? Have you ever been in a shootout as a child?” Melton, D-Gary, asked. “I have. I cannot wrap my mind around how we will move forward as a state when we have children that are struggling with mental health issues.”

The bill’s supporters noted law enforcement’s opposition to the bill was not uniform, pointing to testimony by Hamilton County Sheriff Dennis Quackenbush, among others.

Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, a former Indianapolis police officer, said most officers he has spoken with support the bill. He said officers have numerous procedures for dealing with potentially armed subjects and losing access to the state’s concealed carry permit database won’t change that.

“Law enforcement officers will still have to respond and conduct themselves appropriately under the law,” Sandlin said.

The bill now heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk. Holcomb told reporters last week he would review the bill carefully before deciding whether to sign it.