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State Senate votes to arm legislative staffers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Lawmakers are permitted to carry guns inside the Statehouse and but staff members cannot.

It’s a circumstance that would change under the bill that was voted on Tuesday.

The gun debate in the state Senate continues to focus on permitting more people to be armed not fewer.

The bill passed Tuesday will permit about 200 staff members to carry a weapon at work if they have the proper permit.

“A lot can happen. We’re in a violent world,” said Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville.) “It’s unfortunate but that’s the real world.”

And in the state Senate that’s the prevailing sentiment.

Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford) put it this way,”If you choose not to carry that’s your prerogative. Go for it,” he said. “I choose not to be a victim. I would choose that my legislative assistant has the right not to be a victim.”

There were objections including one from African American Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis).

“If you look like me and you’re carrying a firearm,” he said, “you’re asked after you’re shot whether or not you have a license.”

And Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) worried aloud about the emotions created by religious freedom and civil rights battles now underway.

“Is it the right time to be talking about, ooh, they’re arming themselves in the state capitol?” he asked.

But when it came time for a vote the outcome was lopsided. The bill passed 36 to 13.

It now to the Indiana House for further consideration.