Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signs gun bill eliminating requirement for concealed-carry permit

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INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) — Indiana’s governor on Monday signed a bill that eliminates the state’s permit requirement to carry handguns in public while vetoing a bill banning transgender females from participating in girls school sports.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decisions come after both measures faced intense opposition before being approved by the GOP-dominated legislature that embraced what have become a pair of conservative causes across the country.

Under House Bill 1296, any Indiana resident 18 and over can carry a handgun in public without a license.

Holcomb said in a statement that the permit repeal bill “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,” Holcomb said.

Supporters say this further institutes the constitutional right to bear arms, and people should be able to defend themselves and their property with a handgun.

The NRA- Institute for Legislative Action said in part “the government should not mandate that law-abiding citizens get permission before exercising their fundamental, constitutional right to self defense.”

Opponents, like several law enforcement agencies across the state said this makes doing their job harder and could increase crime.

Gary mayor Jerome Prince said in a statement this could potentially open the door to more guns on the street. “The permit is more than a piece of paper; it is an important record that documents the responsibility and accountability of the person carrying a firearm.,” Prince said.

IN Gov. Holcomb vetoes transgender sports bill

Opponents of the transgender sports bill argued it was a bigoted response to a problem that doesn’t exist, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana saying it planned a lawsuit against what it called “hateful legislation.”

Republican sponsors of the bill said it was needed to protect the integrity of female sports and opportunities for girls to gain college athletic scholarship but pointed out no instances in the state of girls being outperformed by transgender athletes.

Holcomb signaled support for the bill last month but said in his veto letter that the legislation “falls short” of providing a consistent statewide policy for what he called “fairness in K-12 sports.”

Holcomb also pointed to the Indiana High School Athletic Association, which has a policy covering transgender students wanting to play sports that match their gender identity and has said it has had no transgender girls finalize a request to play on girls team.

“The presumption of the policy laid out in HEA 1041 is that there is an existing problem in K-12 sports in Indiana that requires further state government intervention,” Holcomb said in his letter. “It implies that the goals of consistency and fairness in competitive female sports are not currently being met. After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the effort overall.”

Indiana lawmakers can override the governor’s veto with simple majorities in both the House and Senate. A veto override vote could happen as soon as May 24, which legislative leaders have scheduled as a tentative one-day meeting.

The Indiana law would prohibit K-12 students who were born male but who identify as female from participating in a sport or on an athletic team that is designated for women or girls. But it wouldn’t prevent students who identify as female or transgender men from playing on men’s sports teams.

Eleven other Republican-led states have adopted such laws that political observers describe as a classic “wedge issue” to motivate conservative supporters after the governors in Iowa and South Dakota signed their bans in recent weeks.

Holcomb’s veto comes seven years after Indiana faced a national uproar over a religious objections law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence which opponents maintained could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians. The Republican-dominated Legislature quickly made revisions blocking its use as a legal defense for refusing to provide services and preventing the law from overriding local ordinances with LGBT protections.

Democrats argued Republican lawmakers were following a national conservative “culture war” with the transgender girls sports ban.

“Signing House Bill 1041 into law would have put the lives of our children in jeopardy,” state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl said. “However, this unnecessary debate has set a tone with kids that being transgender means something is wrong with them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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