Gun-shy panel didn’t do its job


South Bend Tribune

The work of an Indiana legislative committee tasked with studying the potential repeal of the state’s gun licensing requirement is being praised by Hoosiers on both sides of this volatile issue.

Strange, but true: Those who oppose removing restrictions on carrying firearms and those who support such a measure are each claiming victory.

Blame the vague resolution issued by the panel for this seemingly improbable situation.

“The way I read it, it recommends doing away with the hurdle having to get a license,” said Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who introduced a proposal to allow Hoosiers to carry handguns without a license.

A statement from Beth Sprunger, with the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, has a somewhat different take.

“After taking a close look at this issue and hearing from Indiana law enforcement, our lawmakers stood up for public safety and refused to give the gun lobby what it wanted,” the statement reads, adding that the group is grateful the recommendation includes keeping “this critical public safety requirement in place.”

The recommendation, which passed on a 15-5 party line vote, supports removing licensing “hurdles that restrict the ability of law-abiding Hoosiers to exercise their state and federal constitutional rights to bear arms and defend themselves” — all without specifically naming those hurdles.

At the same time, the panel stopped short of endorsing the repeal of Indiana’s licensing requirement to carry a handgun.

In fact, it says that the General Assembly “should maintain the current licensing system for individuals who desire to obtain a license for reciprocity purposes.”

The report comes after the committee heard more than 10 hours of testimony from those supporting and opposing constitutional carry legislation. That includes numerous law enforcement professionals who testified against repealing Indiana’s law. Lucas, the legislator pushing for repeal, says law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have to get state permission to carry out their Second Amendment rights.

It’s our view that the state’s license requirement is a reasonable step that in no way infringes on the right to bear arms. We had eagerly awaited the study committee’s findings.

Instead of making a specific recommendation for the legislative session that begins in January, the panel failed to take a stand.

State Sen. Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, chairman of the panel, says the report was written to be “deliberately general.” He also notes it shouldn’t be used as legislative intent for any debate in the upcoming session.

A report in the (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette noted that by straddling the line the report “avoided hard votes that might be criticized by the NRA.”

In fact, the committee failed to do its job, which was to study this critical issue carefully, come up with a recommendation that takes a clear, informed position and be willing to defend it to the public.

That’s the very least that Hoosiers can expect from those who represent them.

Too bad that the gun-shy legislative committee came up short.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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