Republican lawmakers in the Hoosier State gave a green light on Monday to a measure that would recognize the right of lawful adults to carry a firearm without a permit.
Indiana House Bill 1369 passed the House by a comfortable 65-31 margin this week, sending the proposal to remake the state's current concealed carry permitting system to the Senate for further review. The bill would delete the requirement for residents seeking to carry a firearm to first get a permit, replacing it with a free reciprocity license in 2022 for those who wanted to carry in other states.
"This bill is for the lawful citizen in the state of Indiana," said bill sponsor, Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn. "This bill is for the person who obeys our laws who right now has to jump over the hurdles to be the person that gets the permit."
The state's existing License to Carry system runs on a shall-issue format with costs running about $50 for a five-year license. According to statistics by the Indiana State Police, there were 1,046,974 active licenses last year. Under HB 1369, this cost would zero out next March for a five-year reciprocity license, and a $75 lifetime reciprocity permit would be offered. Most importantly, the measure would repeal the current law that requires a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in the state.
The move is being panned by a variety of law enforcement groups – the state stands to lose upwards of $3.5 million in annual revenue that largely goes to fund police training – as well as urban Democrats and a parade of anti-gun organizations. Supporting the permitless carry drive are a variety of pro-gun Second Amendment groups.
Should HB 1369 pass the Indiana state Senate, which is controlled 39-11 by the GOP, the bill would have to earn the signature of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. Reelected in 2020 for a second term, Holcomb is seen by many as being pro-gun, having issued an executive order last year keeping gun stores and the firearms industry in the state open despite COVID stay-at-home orders. In 2019, he addressed the NRA's Leadership Forum when the group held their annual meeting in Indianapolis and has in the past highlighted his wife's work as a concealed carry instructor while on the campaign trail.
If the measure passes, Indiana could become the 19th state to adopt constitutional or permitless carry laws, following in the wake of Utah and Montana, which did so earlier this year.