(La Porte County, IN) - If signed by the governor, legislation not requiring a gun permit will increase violent crime in the state predicts La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake predicts.
The proposed legislation, Indiana House Bill 1296, will allow most anyone 18 and over to carry a firearm without a permit. The bill is currently on the desk of Governor Eric Holcomb, awaiting his signature of approval or veto. Unfortunately, the governor has not indicated whether he will sign that bill.
Lake said he's all in favor of gun rights but not requiring a permit will allow more guns to stay in the hands of people who shouldn't have a firearm. For example, an officer who sees a gun during a traffic stop will no longer be able to check to see if the gun is registered. Currently, a gun without a permit is confiscated, and the violator is charged, providing a helpful tool for local law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.
If the governor signs the measure, Lake said people will die from a gun in the hands of someone whose permit status could not be checked.
"It's going to come up. A police officer pulls somebody over. They're speeding. He sees they have a gun. That person goes along their way and goes and kills somebody with a gun. Those are things I think about," Lake said.
Convicted felons and people with a dangerous mental illness would still be prohibited from carrying handguns. Approval by the legislature came despite law enforcement being strongly against the measure, including LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd. Boyd has mentioned that some people unallowed to have guns aren't aware until they apply for the permit.
During the testimony of the bill, Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter blamed outside anti-law enforcement political groups for influencing legislator decisions. Carter testified:
“I never remember a time when outside influence of national associations or political posturing became the driving force behind any legislation in our great state until now. I sure hope you choose to show deference to law enforcement professionals that understand the magnitude and the frontline effects of this legislation, rather than the possibility of getting reelected or elected the next primary.”
Locally, State Representative Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) voted for the bill, while Representatives Pat Boy (D-Michigan City) and Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) voted against it. Senators Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) and Rodney Pol, Jr. (D-Chesterton) voted against it, while Senator Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) voted for it.