The debate around guns has once again flared across the nation, and Indiana is no exception.
The Indiana House of Representatives passed a gun bill on Feb. 22 that would remove the need for a license for open and concealed carry. Given Indiana’s Republican supermajority, which is strongly in favor of gun rights, House Bill 1369 passed 65-31.
The bill is now sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Indiana State Senate. It was denied a hearing in the Senate’s agenda last week. While a vote on the bill may take time, activist groups continue to tell members to contact their senators to make their voices heard.
Democratic State Rep. Chris Campbell, who represents West Lafayette and voted against the bill, said about 50 people in Tippecanoe County were denied a permit to carry last year.
“I think the proponents of this legislation would say that the only people that are carrying weapons are those that are approved,” Campbell said. “However, the fact that there were rejections says that there are people out there that assumed that they would qualify for a permit. There are obviously people that won’t realize that they’re not legally able to carry a firearm.”
Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence, a grassroots organization, said there was no constitutional right to openly carry in a statement about the bill. All 29 Democratic representatives have also been opposed to the bill.
Republican State Rep. Ben Smaltz and his several sponsors in the legislature have called the bill a way to get rid of bureaucratic red tape. Smaltz argued that a lawful resident in Indiana should not need a permit to carry, according to reporting by The Indianapolis Star.
Some police departments, however, have criticized the bill. In a statement to TV station Wane 15, Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux spoke against the bill, saying that more concealed guns could complicate and escalate potentially dangerous situations.
The conversation around gun control has changed dramatically since the passage of the Indiana bill. Since then, two mass shootings in Colorado and Georgia have left a combined 18 people dead. This has prompted legislation in the U.S. Congress as well as a renewed pushback from anti-gun advocates against pro-gun legislation.
The National Rifle Association’s Institute of Legal Action has made multiple statements on the status of the bill and called on its members to lobby their representatives to get it passed.
“This will ensure that citizens have their right to self-defense without government red tape or delays,” the NRA-ILA said in a statement on Feb. 22. “It does not affect previously issued carry permits, and allows citizens who still wish to obtain a permit in order to carry in other states recognizing Indiana permits, to do so.”
Some student organizations at Purdue have also been keeping an eye on gun legislation in the state. Clubs like the Trap and Skeet, who use firearms for the recreational shooting of clay targets, have had to deal with some of the controversy surrounding guns. The primary way they deal with controversy is education.
“One of the things we hype up in the firearms community is the idea of training,” club president Thomas Hill said. “Even if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of keeping a firearm in your home, I still think it’s important to know the functions of a gun and to understand what to do if you’re ever in an uncomfortable situation.”