The Crusader Newspaper Group

‘Permit less carry’ means citizens, police at more risk

By Carolyn McCrady

Starting July 1, Indiana citizens over the age of 18 will no longer have to obtain a permit to carry a gun. Those exempted from the law are felons and persons with severe mental problems. This week, after days of testimony from law enforcement officials and legislators opposed to HEA 1296, Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed into law the so-called “permit less carry” legislation.

In response, Representative Vernon Smith (D) called out Republicans.

“It’s clear Republicans are continuing to push divisive and dangerous legislation in an effort to appease their base …It’s time to stop playing politics and start advocating for solutions to violence in our communities.”

Smith said that the current permitting system prevented over 10,000 dangerous individuals from carrying handguns just last year.

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Gary Police Chief Brian Evans

Gary Police Chief Brian Evans believes the new law will definitely put a strain on law enforcement.

“There will not be an easy way for field officers to determine if an individual should be carrying a weapon. It certainly can encourage those with ill-intent to risk carrying a weapon and allow for more criminal activity to slip through the cracks.”

In other words, the work of the Gary police force will become much more difficult.

State Representative Earl Harris (D) decried Holcomb’s decision to sign the legislation into law and agreed in principle with Chief Evans.

“Despite opposition by numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Indiana State Police and Superintendent Doug Carter, Indiana is now the 24th state to have permitless carry signed into law.”

Harris says that about 14 percent of Indiana handgun permit applicants were denied last year due to multiple reasons.

Local civil rights attorney Brian Bullock said “permit less carry” legislation is just bad law.

“Although a citizen has a right under the Second Amendment to own a handgun, the state has the right to ensure that a citizen is properly licensed to carry one when they are in public.”

Senator Eddie Melton has had personal experience with gun violence and knows what a devastating impact it has on families.

“Representing and living in an area where gun violence has been prevalent, this type of move worries me. State Police Superintendent Carter repeatedly came to speak against this bill. I was hopeful the Governor would have listened, but he did not.”

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Senator Eddie Melton

Melton hopes to change the law if and when it proves to not be in the people’s best interest.

Defending his decision to enact HEA 1296, Governor Holcomb conflated the right to gun ownership, which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court multiple times, with his support for abolishing a long-standing requirement for obtaining a permit to carry.

“HEA 1296, which I’ve signed today, entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our State.”

Holcomb said that those who are already prohibited from carrying will continue to be prohibited and that if caught with a firearm, prosecution will follow.

Gary resident and former Deputy Police Chief for the City of Gary Lamar Taylor believes the legislation is not well thought out.

“When we look at our country, most of the problems we have with guns are in urban areas. The impact will definitely be negative with so many more people having more guns. This is a bad law with no benefit to anyone but gun shop owners.”

Black Lives Matter spokesperson Kim McGee said that the law will allow others to carry weapons since Black communities are targeted for arrests which create “felons.”

“I don’t trust the system to determine who should carry a gun based on felonies. This is part of the ways gun ownership is intentionally discouraged among Black folks but not others. Either way it seems a basic gun safety test, or training should be a prerequisite.”

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