Another perspective: Gun carry permits still worth having

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The (Columbus) Republic

A raft of new Indiana laws took effect July 1, few more controversial than one that lifts the requirement that Hoosiers obtain a permit to carry a handgun.

That legislation authored by Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus, joins Indiana to the now half of American states that require no state-issued license to carry a handgun. Coupled with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that invalidated a 109-year-old New York law requiring “proper cause” to obtain a permit to carry a gun, Indiana’s new law appears to be on solid legal ground.

But this new law allowing any “proper person” to carry a gun invokes another law — the law of unintended consequences. For law enforcement officers, the elimination of a carry permit requirement creates real-life complications when an officer on patrol encounters a person who is carrying a handgun. Until now, the permit — or the lack of one — had been determinative of a person’s legal right to carry.

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Dave Steinkoenig explained to The Republic’s Andy East that the new law “definitely ties our hands some. … Without that permit, it will be time-consuming to look into each individual’s criminal history to make sure that they’re legally allowed (to carry).”

And it’s critical to note that the new law doesn’t change a thing in terms of who is still forbidden from carrying a gun. That’s a long list, beginning with people convicted of felonies; people who’ve been convicted of domestic violence-related offenses or are subject to protective orders; people who have been deemed dangerous by a court order; people barred on the basis of mental health issues, and so on.

Glance at the ISP website and you’ll find a notice on the carry permit application page that emphasizes this point. The notice reads, “If you choose to carry under the permitless option, it is recommended that you speak to an attorney to determine your personal compliance with IC 35-47-2-1.5 prior to carrying a handgun under this new law.”

Indiana State Police were among those who opposed eliminating the carry permit requirement. ISP’s superintendent bluntly testified before the Indiana General Assembly that passing the bill would demonstrate lawmakers “will not be supporting us.”

Law-abiding gun owners who wish to carry, and who want to make it absolutely clear to law enforcement that they are legally permitted to, still have an option. It’s the same as ever: They can still apply for a five-year or lifetime carry permit from ISP at no charge. There is good reason to do so.

“The Indiana State Police does encourage residents to still obtain a permit to carry a handgun,” ISP spokesman Sgt. John Perrine said. In addition to removing doubt that the person carrying a gun is legally entitled to do so, he said, the permit “allows for reciprocity in some other states if one plans to travel outside of Indiana. If a person is unsure if they qualify as a proper person to carry a handgun under the new law, applying for and successfully receiving a gun permit can eliminate any doubt.”

Even though this new law has taken effect, the ISP-issued license remains the clearest way for law-abiding gun owners to instantly prove their legal right to carry. It’s also a great way to support law enforcement.