Americans are familiar with the gun lobbys influence in Congress, but many Hoosiers may not know their own state legislators are being pressured to pass two pro-gun bills that would ill-serve Indiana.
Both proposals have passed the pro-gun House Natural Resources Committee, which includes Rep. Richard Dodge of Pleasant Lake. Both advance narrow pro-gun interests at the expense of sound public policy and the overall safety interests of Hoosiers.
Both should be defeated.
House Bill 1068 would seal a public record, an act that almost never serves the public. The bill would make permits to carry handguns a private record, no longer open to the public. These are not gun permits; these are licenses that specifically allow people to carry handguns in public. Such permits are not necessary to carry rifles or shotguns, nor are they needed to have a handgun in your home.
The move comes after the Indianapolis Star and the Bloomington Herald-Times published information about gun permits. Notably, neither paper published the names and addresses of permit holders – the information the gun lobby says should be secret. The Stars story, in fact, illustrated exactly why the permits should be a public record: It found numerous instances where the carry permits were wrongly issued to convicted felons or unwisely issued over the recommendations of local police chiefs and sheriffs.
Supporters of the law want to deny the scrutiny that could uncover future cases where convicted felons get permits to carry concealed handguns. And gun rights advocates should note that public scrutiny of records can also guard against people being wrongly denied carry permits.
House Bill 1065 would require businesses to allow their employees to leave guns in their cars in employee parking lots. Consider that the same conservatives supporting this bill generally reject new regulations on business. Consider, too, that businesses have long had the right to control what kind of personal belongings employees are and are not allowed to bring to business property.
Interestingly, the bill specifically would rightly allow schools and universities to continue to ban guns. In other words, the bill notes the dangers in allowing guns to be kept in locked vehicles at schools and colleges but pretends there are no similar dangers at businesses.
A similar bill, Senate Bill 25, has passed committee and is headed for Senate passage. Its co-sponsors include Dennis Kruse of Auburn and Marlin Stutzman of Howe, both of whom apparently want to increase regulation of businesses.
Lawmakers, unfortunately, fear the gun lobby, known for vicious and personal verbal and written attacks on anyone who dares to disagree. Hoosiers need to let their lawmakers know that they oppose government secrets and oppose the government telling businesses that they must allow their workers to pack heat on company property.