INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric Holcomb has signed a bill that will eliminate the requirement to have a permit to carry handguns in public in Indiana.
Holcomb signed HEA 1296 just before his Tuesday deadline to act on the legislation, which faced intense opposition at the Statehouse.
In signing the bill into law, Holcomb went against the vocal opposition of his state police superintendent to the further loosening of the state's lenient firearms laws.
The permit repeal, called "constitutional carry" by gun-rights supporters in reference to the Second Amendment, was criticized by major law enforcement groups who argued eliminating the permit system would endanger officers by stripping them of a screening tool for quickly identifying dangerous people who shouldn't have guns.
Twenty-one other states already allow residents to carry handguns without permit — and Ohio's Republican governor signed a similar bill last week.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter joined leaders of the state's Fraternal Order of Police, police chiefs association and county prosecutors association in speaking out against the change.
Carter, wearing his state police uniform, stood in the back of the Senate chamber as the bill was being debated. He said after the vote that approval of the measure "does not support law enforcement — period."
After Holcomb signed the bill on Monday, Carter issued the following statement:
“As Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, I have pledged my continued commitment to Governor Holcomb to work toward solutions enacting HEA 1296. I, like Governor Holcomb, feel enormous responsibility for front-line law enforcement officers. I will work with law enforcement leaders across our state to make necessary changes to firearms enforcement as well as identifying the best way to identify individuals who are not allowed to carry a firearm as defined by Indiana statute.
“We will continue to encourage citizens to apply for, and maintain, a firearms permit. A permit will assist law enforcement officers and will also allow a permit holder reciprocity with other states.”
Holcomb also issued a statement after signing the bill:
“The Second Amendment has been debated for years, yet time and again our U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed this important constitutional right that I fully support. Twenty-three other states have laws comparable to HEA 1296. Vermont has had a constitutional carry law in place since it became a state, and several other states have had a similar law for more than a decade. HEA 1296, which I've signed today, entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our State. It’s important to note that if a person is prohibited, under federal or state laws, from possessing a firearm before this law goes into effect, that person will still be prohibited. And if a prohibited person has a firearm, he or she can be prosecuted. Firearm permits will remain available, without fee, to anyone who wants or needs one, such as Hoosiers desiring to carry a firearm to, through or in another state that has reciprocity with Indiana.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmul released a statement on behalf of the party after the bill was signed, which read, in part:
“A majority of Hoosiers told Indiana Republicans directly they opposed permitless carry. State law enforcement echoed their opposition to the measure a year after Republicans defunded their departments. But unfortunately, Governor Eric Holcomb decided to put politics ahead of protecting the safety of Hoosier families by signing permitless carry into law."
The law takes effect July 1, 2022.