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Indiana nears law allowing more armed statewide officials at state Capitol

FILE - The Indiana Statehouse appears on May 5, 2017, in Indianapolis. Four statewide elected officials in Indiana including the attorney general and secretary of state will be allowed to carry handguns in the state Capitol thanks to a bill sent to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb Thursday, March 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Four statewide elected officials in Indiana including the attorney general and secretary of state can carry handguns in the state Capitol under a bill that lawmakers revived and sent to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb Thursday.

Members of the General Assembly and their staff already have the right to carry a handgun in the state Capitol and on the complex grounds. The new measure would also repeal a stipulation that lawmakers and their staff have a valid Indiana license to carry.

The original state Senate proposal on the matter failed to advance past a second floor vote last month. But lawmakers brought back the idea by adding the language to another bill in the session’s final days.

However, the newest incarnation does not extend the right to the staff members of the elected officials as originally proposed. Holcomb’s office declined to comment on whether he supports the measure.

The final compromise would allow the state attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and comptroller to carry a handgun if they are not otherwise barred by state or federal law. The language was added to House Bill 1084, which would prohibit a governmental entity from keeping a list or record of privately owned firearms or owners of firearms.

The measure passed its final action in the state Senate, in a 39-9 vote with the Democratic caucus in opposition.

Democratic Senate minority leader Greg Taylor said he voted against the change because it would also repeal a license requirement for members of the General Assembly and their staffs to carry on Capitol grounds.

“We used to have at least an understanding,” he said about regulations on who can carry at the Capitol.

Guns are allowed in U.S. statehouses in some form in 21 states, according to a 2021 review by The Associated Press. Indiana in 2022 repealed a state law requiring a permit to carry a handgun in public.

Indiana State Treasurer Daniel Elliott, who testified for the measure, said he was hopeful the conversation can continue next year to add statewide officers’ staff.

“The 2nd Amendment Rights of Hoosiers shouldn’t end at the steps of the Statehouse,” he said in a written statement.

Metal detectors are in place at public entrances on Capitol grounds. State employees with a valid access badge do not have to walk through detectors to enter the buildings.