INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that will allow Indiana gun owners to carry without a permit was revived Wednesday by placing the language into another bill.
A conference committee hollowed out SB 209, which added specified substances to the scheduled list of controlled substances, and replaced it with Constitutional Carry language.
The bill will now need to go through one more committee, can no longer be amended and could be in front of the full House and Senate for a vote by Thursday or, at the latest, early next week.
The original bill passed by the House (HB 1077) allowed anyone age 18 or older to carry a handgun except for reasons such as having a felony conviction or having a dangerous mental illness.
The Senate then amended that bill to keep the current permit requirement in place, while creating an automatic six-month provisional permit so that those who have submitted applications don't have to wait perhaps weeks for granting of the final permit. That amendment violated some rules and could not be reassigned to a committee in time to change it.
That's why lawmakers trying to get Constitutional Carry passed had to look for a different bill to move it into.
Democrats were quick to slam the move by Republicans and pointed to some law enforcement being against it, including Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.
"It's often so easy to talk about your support for public safety," Carter said. "But if you choose to support this bill, you will not be supporting us."
Rep. Ben Smaltz, a Republican sponsor of the bill from Auburn, said repealing the permit requirement would mean "the law-abiding citizen is not required to go through a process of asking permission, submitting to government investigation, supplying their fingerprints to enjoy a right."
"The criminals are not submitting themselves to these sorts of investigations because they're criminals," Smaltz said.
Carter blamed the "outside influence of national associations or political posturing" for pushing the permit repeal issue in the Legislature, where Republicans have better than two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate.
"This is the problem with the supermajority. It stifles, prohibits and oftentimes limits public debate," Carter said. "I sure hope you choose to show deference to law enforcement professionals who understand the magnitude and the frontline effects of this legislation, rather than the possibility of getting reelected or unelected the next primary."
Indiana currently requires people to obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun outside their own homes, businesses and cars, although people can generally carry rifles and shotguns without a permit. Twenty-one other states allow residents to carry handguns without permits.