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Indiana House votes to eliminate handgun licenses

Indiana’s state House on Monday passed legislation that would eliminate handgun licensing in the state, over objections from the State Police.

The measure, which passed 65-31, will now head to the state Senate. It would eliminate handgun licenses, which raise more than $5 million annually for law enforcement training, according to The Indianapolis Star.

While opponents of the measure have said it will hurt public safety and leave taxpayers on the hook for training, supporters of the measure have said the status quo forces citizens to pay for a constitutional right.

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"This bill is for the lawful citizen in the state of Indiana," state Rep. Ben Smaltz (R), the bill’s author, said in a statement. "This bill is for the person who obeys our laws who right now has to jump over the hurdles to be the person that gets the permit."

State Rep. Terri Austin (D) countered that other constitutional rights, such as voting, still require a registration process before citizens can take part in them. "Why should the Second Amendment be any different than the 15th?" she said, according to the newspaper.

The bill would phase out licenses by March 2022, leaving the Indiana State Police and Bureau of Motor Vehicles to create an alternate system for looking up whether a resident is permitted to carry a handgun.

State Rep. Mitch Gore (D), who represents the Indianapolis area and is also a captain in the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, warned the measure would “cause less peace.”

Separately, State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter testified in opposition to the bill before it passed out of committee. Carter argued the measure increased the investigatory burden on officers rather than handgun owners, according to the newspaper.

The bill would also still allow reciprocity licenses from other states, with a $75 lifetime permit to partially offset the lost revenues.