Indiana House panel dumps proposed handgun licensing repeal

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — A controversial gun permit bill flipped on its head Wednesday.

Several people, even some in law enforcement, turned up for a committee meeting Wednesday morning. Many were ready to voice their opposition, but a last minute revision changed everything.

The original bill stated an Indiana resident, who’s allowed to have a handgun, could’ve carried without a handgun license. You only would’ve needed a state issued ID. Those words sparked controversy.

“We were very concerned about the original bill,” said Becke Bolinger of Indianapolis, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

State Representative, Timothy Wesco, a Republican from Osceola who authored the bill, acknowledged that concern from several people Wednesday morning.

“Sure, there was some controversial language,” said Wesco. “I feel like we’ve taken some positive steps forward for gun owners without taking any unintended consequences with law enforcement.”

Considering those strong opinions, Wesco drastically changed his original House Bill 1424.

“Everything that you’ve read about the bill thus far is gone,” said Wesco. “We’re starting essentially with new language here.”

That new language basically says the bill would “give a free lifetime carry permit starting July 1, 2019 and also allow an individual having a 4-year permit, to go to a 5-year permit,” Wesco explained. “Take the national criminal background check initially, but not have to take it again every time they buy a gun.”

Kendallville Police Chief Rob Wiley said he felt the new bill will still allow careful consideration of gun permit applicants.

“That was extremely important to our organization, I think to law enforcement in general, the ability to vet up front, which the original bill had taken out,” said Wiley.

Fort Wayne’s Police Department sees the amendment as a success, too.

“Is it perfect? No. It’s not perfect, but it’s not a perfect world,” said Fort Wayne Police Sgt. Gary Hensler.

Bolinger said she felt like many Hoosier voices were heard Wednesday.

“The permit process will continue because it does nothing but keep us all safer,” she said.

The new bill passed the House Committee Wednesday morning by a vote of 12-1. The bill moves forward to a second reading.