A bill authored by District 69 State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, was signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb during the National Rifle Association national convention.
Lucas appeared onstage April 26 with Holcomb during the convention, which drew appearances from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and gun rights activists from across the country.
“To get a bill of this magnitude on the weekend of the NRA convention with President Trump there and having the governor sign it onstage, I think that’s really just a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Lucas said.
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House Enrolled Act 1284, which will go into effect July 1, provides immunity for a justified use of force in certain instances.
The legislation was inspired by a 2017 incident in Rising Sun when Kystie Phillips shot a man who was attempting to grab a gun during an altercation with a conservation officer.
Phillips’ mother had reported a suspicious person in the area, and the off-duty officer pulled the man over. An altercation began, and the man went to take the officer’s gun when Phillips shot him.
“She saved the officer’s life,” Lucas said.
State law provided immunity for Phillips, but it did not protect her from a civil lawsuit.
Lucas reached out to Guy Relford, a gun rights attorney and radio show host, to help draft legislation to resolve the issue.
“It’s a good bill that made sense,” he said.
After seeing what Phillips went through, Lucas said the legislation shouldn’t be controversial.
“She was a single mom who was almost bankrupted and had the emotional stress on her family for two years because she saved the life of a person who was getting ready to be killed,” he said.
Lucas said Holcomb was proud to sign the bill.
“His name is on this, too, and it’s our job to get good legislation up there to him,” Lucas said. “That was one he proudly signed because it made so much sense.”
The bill received bipartisan support and was coauthored by District 52 Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Garrett; District 49 Rep. Christy Stutzman, R-Goshen; and District 66 Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative. We all have the same rights to self-defense,” Lucas said. “To have the bipartisan support is a great feeling.”
The legislation also allows a person who may legally possess a firearm to do so on school property joined with churches if the person possesses the firearm as an employee or volunteer of a house of worship located on the school property. It also permits possession of guns while attending a worship service or religious ceremony conducted at a house of worship.
On April 27 at the national convention, Lucas was named the Defender of Freedom by the NRA. According to the NRA, the award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves in preserving and protecting Second Amendment rights and is their highest recognition.
“Protecting our individual liberties and guaranteeing every American is able to exercise their rights set forth by our founding fathers is so important,” Lucas said. “This award reaffirms that we are taking the right steps in Indiana to ensure gun owners are protected, and legislation like my self-defense bill will continue to make Indiana a friend to legal gun owners.”