House Bill 1369, which passed the House by a 65-31 vote and now heads to the Senate, repeals a law that requires a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in Indiana, according to the Indianapolis Star
It allows for any person who is lawfully able to carry and possess a firearm to do so without a government-issued permit or license, reports said. The bill specified that certain offenders still could be prohibited from carrying handguns.
Supporters of the bill argue that the permit process punishes law-abiding citizens and residents shouldn't have to pay for a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
"Anything that can make things easier for somebody who is a law abiding citizen is always something that I think I’m going to try to support," said Indianapolis gun owner Eric Housman, according to FOX 59 of Indianapolis.
Police, however, argued that eliminating screening processes would put more guns on the streets, making communities less safe.
"I think we are all very strong supporters of the second amendment," said Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly with the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police. "By repealing processes like this that are good screening mechanisms, we are going to put more guns out on the street, and there are going to be people that should not be carrying them will be carrying them."
Currently, to apply for a new Indiana license to carry a handgun, you have to be 18 or older, register online, schedule an appointment to have your fingerprints taken, and complete local law enforcement agency processing within 180 days.
"This bill is for the lawful citizen in the state of Indiana," said bill author Rep. Ben Smaltz, a Republican. "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."
Out of the more than 120,000 handgun license applicants in 2020, nearly 4% were denied, according to state data. Flannelly said his department denied 55 people from getting carry permits last year based on their background check.
"We are going to remove a tool from our law enforcement officers to help make communities safer and actually help keep our police officers safer," he told the station.
The licenses raise $5.3 million per year to train local law enforcement officers, and taxpayers will be forced to partially pick up the bill, the paper reported.
Critics also argue that it won't be easy for police to check if someone is allowed to carry a firearm. or check on those who try to carry when they aren't supposed to, according to the Indianapolis Star.
The bill would eliminate the license in March 2022.