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GOP lawmakers bring back moribund permitless carry bill

Indiana Statehouse. (WISH Photo, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A bill to eliminate Indiana’s concealed carry permit requirement moved back within range of the governor’s desk Wednesday.

The bill appeared dead after a Senate committee hearing last week. The Senate Judiciary Committee substantially rewrote the bill at the end of a marathon hearing. That move effectively killed the bill because it happened too close to the deadline for committees to act on bills. On Wednesday morning, a conference committee stripped the language out of a Senate bill on drug classifications to make room for the permitless carry language.

The proposal returns the bill’s language to what the House approved on Jan. 11. The bill eliminates the requirement to get a permit in order to carry a concealed handgun and creates the crime of unlawful carrying of a gun for people who have a criminal record or who have been deemed mentally ill by the courts. The bill has drawn support from gun rights groups and some Indiana sheriffs but is opposed by every major law enforcement advocacy group in the state, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police and the Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys. Constituent surveys posted online by Senate Republicans show large majorities of individual senators’ constituents said they would prefer to leave the existing permit law in place.

Sen. Rodney Pol, D-Portage, said the decision to push ahead with the bill ignores the testimony police provided.

“I myself have a sister-in-law who is a law enforcement officer. I love her very, very much, and I am very concerned about what this bill would essentially do,” he said.

If the proposal gets enough committee support, it would move to the House and Senate for up-or-down floor votes. Affirmative votes in both chambers would send it to the governor’s desk.