Despite opposition from State Police, the Indiana House on Monday voted to eliminate the license to carry a handgun in Indiana.

House Bill 1369 passed the House by a 65-31 vote and now heads to the Senate, where its already picked up key endorsements. Under the legislation, sometimes called “constitutional carry,” certain offenders still could be prohibited from carrying handguns.

The bill would eliminate the license in March 2022. The licenses raise $3.5 million per year to train law enforcement officers, a tab that taxpayers would have to pick up.

Opponents worry the bill would make police officers and the general public less safe, but advocates say law abiding citizens should not have to pay for a right guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

“This bill is for the lawful citizen in the state of Indiana,” said bill author Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn. “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.”

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Some Democrats point out Republicans in the past have supported laws that appear to limit other amendments to the Constitution.

Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, argued that there are plenty of constitutional rights Hoosiers don’t automatically get to practice, including voting, which requires citizens to register.

“Why should the Second Amendment be any different than the 15th?” Austin asked.

Opponents say police would not have an easy way to check whether someone is allowed to carry a firearm. Nor would there be a check on those who try to carry when they are not supposed to.

Permits generally are granted, in Indiana. In 2020, almost 4% of more than 120,000 handgun license applicants were denied, according to state data.

“This will cause less peace,” Rep. Mitch Gore, D-Indianapolis said, on the House floor. “Our people will be less safe.” Gore is a captain with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

The bill would require state police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to develop a process to enable law enforcement to quickly check whether someone is prohibited from carrying a handgun.

Opponents worry that system won’t be in place by that March 2022 start date, or ever.

Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter was among those who testified in opposition to the bill in committee because he said it shifts the burden from those carrying the firearms to officers.

Other officers, however, testified in support of the legislation.

There also could be a financial impact to the state.

Bill eliminates millions

Usually handgun licenses fees help go toward training for local law enforcement officers. According to a fiscal analysis of the bill, police departments could lose a collective $5.3 million in fiscal year 2023 if the bill passes.

House Republicans put $3.5 million for local police department training into the $36.3 billion two-year state budget proposal to help offset the lost revenue. The House will vote on that budget Monday afternoon.

Here’s how out-of-state licensing would work

Hoosiers would still be able to get a reciprocity license to carry for other states. Five-year licenses would be free, while lifetime permits would cost $75. That money would help make up for the loss of in-state permits as well, though it’s unclear how much money that provision would generate.

Since at least 2016, advocates have pushed for so-called “constitutional carry” in Indiana, but have never been able to get the bill across the finish line. Lawmakers, however, have successfully already made it easier to get a permit, nixing the costs associated with short-term permits.

Holcomb had signed that 2019 bill in front of the National Rifle Association convention.

Both the budget and House Bill now move to the Senate for consideration.

Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana House votes to eliminate license to carry handguns


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