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Senate committee stuns, guts bill that would've eliminated handgun carry permit requirement

Brandon Smith
IPB News
In impassioned testimony, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter called out Republican lawmakers, saying they do not support law enforcement if they back a bill to eliminate Indiana's license requirement to carry a handgun in public.

In a stunning move, a Senate committee Wednesday effectively gutted a bill that would’ve eliminated Indiana’s license requirement to carry a handgun in public.

That change came in the final minutes of the hearing, after eight hours of testimony and debate.

House Bill 1077, as it now stands, keeps Indiana’s handgun carry permit system in place. And it adds a new, “provisional” license – a temporary permit a person can use to carry a handgun in public while the state processes their application for the permanent handgun license.

But almost no one testified on such a proposal. Rather, the eight hours was spent debating eliminating the licenses entirely.

READ MORE: Indiana House approves bill eliminating need for license to carry handgun in public

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Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter raised eyebrows as he called out Republican lawmakers and their supermajorities. In impassioned testimony, he said the permit system gives police in the field the only quick way to check whether a person is legally allowed to carry.

“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. You will not be supporting your frontline officer.”

Most of the law enforcement groups in the state opposed the original bill – the Chiefs of Police, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Indiana State Police.

But law enforcement opposition was not universal. Martin County Sheriff Travis Roush said the permit system gives officers a false sense of security.

“Possessing a permit does not exclude a human being from violence,” Roush said.

The bill’s future is now totally up in the air. The original language – eliminating the licenses – could be restored later in the process.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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