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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:03 pm

House advances gun-carry bill

Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers who receive a protective order would be able to carry a firearm without a permit under a bill passed 71-26 Tuesday by the Indiana House.

Currently in Indiana, Hoosiers can have guns in their homes but need a license to carry it off that property. Some people are banned from having possession of firearms, including those with a felony conviction or with significant mental illnesses, and the measure does not change those limitations.

House Bill 1071 gives someone who receives a protective order permission to carry without a license for 60 days after the order is issued. The person can extend that another 60 days if they have started the process of getting a handgun license.

Much of the debate on the bill was about women protecting themselves from domestic violence.

"When your angry ex is breaking through the door would you rather have a gun in your hand or a phone to dial 911?" asked Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, the author, said it is voluntary and not all women will feel comfortable. But for those fearful of going to work or church or the grocery after a protective order is issued, it allows them to carry a firearm. He repeatedly noted that no state or federal limitations on buying or owning a gun are pre-empted by the legislation.

"This gives them an option to defend themselves," Eberhart said.

Several Democrats argued against the bill.

"Please, please don’t add fuel to the fire," said Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, a former police officer who has responded to domestic violence calls.

Domestic violence advocates in committee argued a woman is more likely to be killed when a gun is introduced into a volatile situation.

Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, said the motive behind the bill is about preserving the right to bear arms, not domestic violence. "This bill is a Trojan horse," he said.

The legislation also has a provision calling for a study of constitutional carry issues – or eliminating state permits to carry firearms.

It now moves to the Senate.

The 11 GOP area representatives supported the bill. Rep. Phil Gia­Quinta, D-Fort Wayne, opposed it.

nkelly@jg.net