INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers who receive a protective order will have another option to defend themselves – a firearm – under a bill passed by a House panel Tuesday.
The House Public Policy Committee voted 8-4 to approve House Bill 1071, which allows those who receive a protective order to arm themselves immediately instead of waiting to get a license to carry a gun.
The committee also added a provision to study getting rid of state licensure laws for firearms altogether.
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 getting a license, including those with a felony conviction or with significant mental illness.
House Bill 1071 now moves to the full House.
The base of the bill 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.
Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, is the author. Though Hoosiers can get a license to carry at 18, Eberhart’s bill makes the age 21.
Chris Kopacki, of the National Rifle Association, testified last week that this allows women and men who are being stalked or threatened to protect themselves from further violence.
"Indiana would become a leader in victim protection," he said.
But several people working on domestic violence issues fear the guns will simply be turned on the women instead.
Jody Madeira, a law professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, said that statistically when a woman owns a gun it is far more likely to be used against her than in her defense.
And Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the likelihood of death is 100 percent greater no matter who owns the firearm in the household. She pointed out that Indiana’s restraining order statute even talks about removing firearms from the situation.
"Any time you infuse a gun in a situation, it increases the likelihood of death," she said. Berry said the majority of domestic violence deaths occur in the home, where a woman can already have a gun. She argued there is no need for the bill.
Eberhart said he met with domestic violence advocates and couldn’t come to agreement on the bill.
"Something terrible is going to happen," said Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson. "An American woman is fatally shot by her partner every 16 hours."
The committee also added a provision calling for a summer study committee on whether Indiana should have carry permits at all.
Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, offered a separate bill that would have gotten rid of carry licenses – dubbed the constitutional carry bill. But after internal discussion, he decided a study is needed.
He said it will look at the repeal of handgun licensure laws; issues of reciprocity in other states; fiscal impacts; definitions of prohibited persons; and rates at which handguns are used in suicides, criminal acts and defense of a crime.
Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said the study is the "elephant’s nose under the tent" and people in urban areas are concerned about easier access to more guns.
Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, said the idea doesn’t open up access to guns. It says if you have a gun you have a right to carry it without going through a bureaucratic licensure process and paying a fee. He said the bill needs a "deep look this summer to get the true message out." The bill now moves to the full House.
Supporting the measure were local lawmakers Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne; Rep. Chris Judy, R-Fort Wayne; and Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn. Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, was opposed.