INDIANAPOLIS — Several police organizations are arguing against a proposal that would have Indiana join a dozen other states that don’t require a license to carry a handgun in public.
A legislative committee met Tuesday to begin reviewing the proposal that has failed the last two years in the Republican-dominated Legislature, but it could become a contentious topic during next year’s session.
Law enforcement officials told the panel that they supported the current law under which Indiana State Police check people who want to legally carry a gun.
State police Maj. Mike White said a few thousand people a year are typically denied permits because they are prohibited for reasons including criminal history or mental health issues. He said removing the permit requirement could put police officers at greater risk.
“Any sort of vetting that we can do and assure that even that one person that shouldn’t be carrying doesn’t carry, that’s what we need to do,” White said.
Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour is pushing for repealing the gun permit law, saying that law-abiding people shouldn’t have to get state permission to carry out their constitutional right to bear arms.
“We have the state that is forcing an innocent person to get online, apply for a license, go get fingerprinted,” Lucas said. “They have to take a half day off work or a full day and pay a fee to the state to exercise a constitutional right.”
About 776,000 people had active Indiana handgun permits at the start of this year, according to state police statistics. The agency approved 134,290 permits during 2016, while rejecting 4,802 applications.
Kendallville Police Chief Rob Wiley, the immediate past president of the Indiana Association of Police Chiefs, said the permit process wasn’t an unreasonable step.
“The law that is currently in existence in Indiana is a very Second Amendment friendly law, quite frankly, while still allowing law enforcement to do what it needs to do, which is protect the general public,” Wiley said.
The committee has one meeting scheduled each in September and October as it considers whether it will recommend changes to the permitting law for legislators to consider during the next General Assembly session that starts in January.