Indiana Governor Mum on His Top Cop's Gun Permit Stance

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has yet to say whether he’ll follow his state police superintendent’s advice to oppose a push by Republican legislators to repeal the state requirement for a permit to carry a handgun in public.

Holcomb did however say that he fully supports Superintendent Doug Carter, even after Carter sharply criticized GOP lawmakers during a state Senate hearing last week on the proposal, telling senators that if lawmakers “support this bill, you will not be supporting us.”

Holcomb told reporters Thursday that “I stand behind Superintendent Carter 110%.”

“Those were his words,” Holcomb said. “He is a passionate leader who cares, as I do, deeply about not just his colleagues and cohorts, but citizens, and I would never ask him, never ask him to curtail his passion.”

Carter spoke at the end of about seven hours of testimony on the permit repeal proposal, which also drew opposition from leaders of the state Fraternal Order of Police, police chiefs association and county prosecutors association. They argue that eliminating the permit system would strip police of a screening tool for identifying dangerous people who shouldn’t have guns.

Carter blamed the “outside influence of national associations or political posturing” for pushing the permit repeal issue in the Legislature, where Republicans have better than two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate.

“This is the problem with the supermajority. It stifles, prohibits and oftentimes limits public debate,” Carter said. “I sure hope you choose to show deference to law enforcement professionals who understand the magnitude and the frontline effects of this legislation, rather than the possibility of getting reelected or unelected the next primary.”

Republican legislative leaders said they were “disappointed” with the comments from Carter, the former elected Republican sheriff in Hamilton County who has was first appointed state police superintendent by then-Gov. Mike Pence in 2013 and reappointed by Holcomb in 2017.

The repeal proposal stalled in the Senate last week, but Republican lawmakers are poised to vote on it ahead of next week’s expected end of this year’s legislative session as it was revived in a House-Senate conference committee on Wednesday.

The provisions would allow anyone age 18 or older to carry a handgun in public except for reasons such as having a felony conviction, facing a restraining order from a court or having a dangerous mental illness. Supporters argue the permit requirement undermines Second Amendment protections by forcing law-abiding citizens to undergo police background checks that can take weeks.

The repeal proposal easily passed the House in January but has faced more skepticism in the Senate, which didn’t take up a similar House-passed bill last year

Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said Thursday that the proposal was “moving forward” and he expected it to come up for a Senate vote next week.

When asked whether enough Republican senators were supporting it to win approval, Bray said: “We will know that when the votes are counted up on the board, but it seems like there are probably enough votes to pass it at this point.”

Indiana currently requires people to obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun outside their own homes, businesses and cars, although people can generally carry rifles and shotguns without a permit. Twenty-one other states allow residents to carry handguns without permits, which gun rights advocates call “constitutional carry,” in reference to the Second Amendment.

Holcomb didn’t directly answer whether he supported the concept of not requiring handgun permits. He said he would give the bill “careful thought” if it reached his desk, “understanding what the superintendent articulated is real.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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