Indiana lawmakers on Tuesday approved a constitutional carry bill that would allow adult residents in the state to carry a handgun without needing a license to do so.
The legislation was passed 30-20 in the state Senate and 68-30 earlier in the state House, with Republicans holding majorities in both bodies. It now heads to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk for either his signature or veto. If the governor does not sign the bill within seven days, it will automatically become law.
Conservative groups support the bill, which would allow anyone who can legally carry a handgun to do so without a permit moving forward. The National Rifle Association urged supporters to contact Holcomb and ask him to sign the legislation, saying the bill “ensures that citizens have their right to self-defense without government red tape or delays.”
Bill sponsor state Rep. Ben Smaltz, a Republican from Auburn, said his bill is intended to support law-abiding gun owners and would bring Indiana into step with 21 other states that have constitutional carry laws.
“This bill represents a big win because it cuts government red tape for law-abiding Hoosier gun owners,” Smaltz said in a statement after his bill passed the House in January. “As lawmakers, we need to do what’s necessary to protect our Second Amendment rights. That means getting this legislation across the finish line. It’s my hope the Senate considers and acts on this important bill this session.”
Republican state Sen. Eric Koch, who introduced the bill in the Senate, said that while the law enforcement community is “divided on this issue,” he believes making handgun permit requirements optional won’t cause an increase in crime.
“Criminals already carry firearms without regard for the law,” Koch said, according to WTHR-TV. “Lawful carry simply puts the law-abiding on equal footing.”
State Police Superintendent Doug Carter and Indiana’s Fraternal Order of Police opposed the legislation, along with the police chiefs association and county prosecutors association. They said repealing permit requirements would deprive law enforcement of an important screening tool that lets authorities identify dangerous people they encounter who shouldn’t have guns.
Carter, who was appointed by the Republican governor, accused GOP lawmakers supporting the bill of “political posturing” and putting police officers at risk.
“It’s often so easy to talk about your support for public safety,” Carter said in February. “But if you choose to support this bill, you will not be supporting us.”
Nine state Senate Republicans joined all 11 Democrats in voting against the bill.