INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana House Bill 1077 would eliminate the requirement that adults apply for a permit to carry a handgun.
Although the state abolished the fee to apply for a permit, municipalities can levy taxes on permits.
“Tell me what other constitutional right we have to pay a fee to exercise. As I speak to you now, do I have to pay $75 to the government to get permission to answer your questions?” said Greg Burge, owner of Beech Grove Firearms.
The bill on Tuesday passed the House on a 64-29 vote. The Indiana Senate, where the same piece of legislation died during the last year’s session, can now consider the measure.
The bill would only allow lawful carry for people 18 and older. Hoosiers who want to purchase a firearm would still have to complete a form with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The proposed legislation would move the theft of a firearm from a Level 6 Felony to a Level 5 Felony, which carries a sentence from 1-6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
“House Bill 1077 really did a grave misservice to the men and women in brown and blue who are already fighting the scourge of gun violence on our streets,” said Rep. Mitch Gore, a Indianapolis Democrat.
Gore, who is a Marion County sheriff’s deputy, is among lawmakers who opposed the bill.
Doug Carter, the Indiana State Police superintendent, also opposed the bill. He said during a committee meeting earlier this month that the current licensing system prevented 10,000 people from getting firearms licenses; they were ineligible because of felony convictions.
Carter is also worried the law would make it harder for law enforcement to know whether a person pulled over during a traffic stop is carrying a handgun.
Some other police agencies have endorsed the bill.
Gore said, “They’ll be less informed at traffic stops and on critical incidents, and I think we could have done a lot better.”
But, gun store owner Burge contends the requirement to carry permit only burdens responsible gun owners, not irresponsible ones.
“Do we really believe they are the ones who go down to the police department and say, ‘Hey, I want to get my permit before I rob a bank, to shoot the neighbor?’”
If passed, Indiana would join 21 other states, including Kentucky, that allow permitless carry.
The General Assembly will take Monday off for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and resume its session Tuesday.