Indiana Police Set End to State’s Handgun License Requirement – NBC Chicago

The repeal of Indiana’s requirement for a license to carry a handgun in public has forced police departments to change the way they handle encounters with armed persons.

Republicans pushed the repeal, which takes effect Friday, through the state legislature this spring despite vocal opposition from the state’s police superintendent and several law enforcement groups. statewide. They argued that eliminating the permit system would endanger officers by depriving them of a screening tool to quickly identify dangerous people who should not have guns.

The change will allow anyone 18 or older to carry a handgun in public, except for people with felony convictions, restraining orders or illnesses. dangerous mind. Proponents argue that the permit requirement undermined Second Amendment protections by requiring law-abiding citizens to submit to police fingerprinting and background checks.

Without the permit requirement, police can no longer ask if someone is legally carrying a handgun or seize someone’s gun unless they have sufficient suspicion that the person has been involved in a crime. according to state police. The agency trained its 1,200 troops on the legal changes and provided information to hundreds of police departments, state police spokesman Capt. Ron Galaviz said.

“We have to take one or two more steps to be able to do a forensic check,” Galaviz said. “We won’t necessarily be able to do it there on the side of the road.”

At least 25 states have passed carry without a license laws, with Georgia in April becoming the 10th state to do so in the past two years as the issue has become a national conservative cause that gun rights advocates are calling “constitutional portage” in reference to the Second Amendment. . Of Indiana’s neighboring states, Ohio, which also took action this spring, and Kentucky do not require handgun licenses, while Illinois and Michigan do.

The easing of Indiana’s already lax gun laws comes just days after President Joe Biden signed the most sweeping gun violence bill in decades following a recent spate mass shootings, including the killing of 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school.

About 1.2 million people had handgun licenses in Indiana as of March 1, according to state police statistics. The Licensing Act required people to obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun outside their home, business, and vehicle, although people can generally carry rifles and shotguns without permit.

State Police Superintendent Doug Carter sharply criticized Republican lawmakers during legislative repeal hearings, blaming “political standing” for their push and saying that if lawmakers “support this bill, you won’t support us.” Carter said following the state Senate’s vote giving final approval to the bill in March that “it adds a layer of danger for every police officer.”

After Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill, Carter said he would work to find the best ways “to identify people who are not authorized to carry a firearm within the meaning of the law. of Indiana”.

Rep. Ben Smaltz, a Republican sponsor of the license repeal, said officers have been trained not to let their guard down during an encounter, whether or not the person has a gun.

“I think with law-abiding Hoosier, they’re happy that we’re looking out for their interests and making it easy for them to defend themselves away from home the same way they would at home,” Smaltz said, of Auburn, said.

Galaviz said the state cannot legally create a database of people prohibited from possessing firearms and that police and prosecutors will bear the burden of proving someone was illegally carrying a handgun.

The state will continue to issue handgun permits, which Galaviz said state police recommend people obtain in order to take their firearms to other states where they are permitted and remove the questions whether someone is legally allowed to do so in Indiana due to a past violation. .

“There will be people they just don’t know,” Galaviz said. “There are things that happened in the past of people who were like, ‘Oh, I forgot that happened. “”

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