INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI)-A bill that is on its way to the Indiana Senate would repeal the law that requires a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in Indiana. Several police agencies have spoken out against the bill. However, the author of the bill says that criminals don't follow gun laws anyway. The state of Indiana started requiring gun owners to obtain an open carry license in 1983. The author of the bill is Representative Ben Smaltz. His bill would allow any law-abiding citizen 18 and over to carry a hand gun in public without a license.
"We are trying to figure out a way to help the good guy," said Representative Smaltz a republican from district 52. "How do we help the good guy overcome the regulatory burdens the financial impediments for them to be able to protect themselves the way they see fit."
While the bill passed in the house it doesn't have support from the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police. An association that Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly serves on as a board member.
"One of our concerns was what are we looking to fix what problem are we trying to solve here because the way that we see it the system works pretty well," said Chief Flannelly.
According to Representative Smaltz, his constituents say obtaining the license is too much of a hassle.
"We have had constituents call and talk about how much it costs how far they have to drive to get fingerprinted and really that drove the point home that the bad guy doesn't have to do any of that," said Representative Smaltz.
The only way an open carry permit is denied is if someone has been convicted of a felony, they have a domestic violence conviction, or a significant documented history of mental illness. Extensive drug use can also be a reason a police agency denies an open carry license. Those who sell firearms say getting rid of another screening tool isn't the right answer.
"I think it's important it gives them a way of tracking people who have firearms and that they are acquiring them in a legal way," said Randy Ramsey the Owner of RamZs Emporium.
Chief Flannelly says getting rid of open carry permits will make it that much harder for police officers to prove who is carrying a gun legally.
"Carrying a firearm brings with it a tremendous amount of responsibility that nobody should take lightly," added Chief Flannelly.
Those seeking gun permits currently pay about $5 million in state fees, along with $3.5 million in permit application fees that local police and sheriff departments now collect and spend on equipment and training. Smaltz said he expected that the Legislature would include money in the state budget so that the local departments would not lose that money. To read the bill click here and then read the fiscal notes for a full breakdown.