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Indiana representatives pass bill changing handgun license requirements


A man takes a class for a concealed handgun license on Jan. 17, 2013, in Fort Worth, Texas. A bill which would change handgun license laws passed through the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday morning. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that would change handgun license laws passed through the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday morning.

House Bill 1424 would eliminate the fee for a lifetime carry permit beginning July 1, 2019. It would also extend the four-year handgun license to a five-year license. Those who apply for a license can now apply for a five-year license, which would make them exempt from background checks when purchasing a firearm.

Those who wish to purchase a permit would still have to have an initial background check.

Representatives who spoke against the bill worried about fiscal issues if the fee was eliminated. 

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, asked the bill's author, Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, what would happen to funds police departments receive from the lifetime carry permit fee. Pierce said Bloomington police officers had expressed concerns that these funds used for training would be eliminated.

Wesco said those concerns were why the fee elimination would start in 2019. Wesco said he hopes pushing it back would allow lawmakers to find ways to replace that funding during a budget cycle.

Some representatives had concerns eliminating the fee would result in a loss of potentially $6 to $7 million.

Co-author Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, said he does not think the loss would be as significant everyone thinks.

“We may not see the type of fiscal statement that we all fear,” Smaltz said. “I think that’s our worst possible case scenario.”

Before the bill was amended last week, it would have completely repealed a law requiring a license to carry a handgun. Representatives who spoke out against the amended bill worried about creating a license for a constitutional right to bear arms.

Wesco said removing a fee for a lifetime carry permit still allows citizens to exercise a constitutional right without a price.

“The constitution gives us this right,” Wesco said. “You shouldn’t have to pay to exercise your constitutional right.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, which will hear it in the second half of the session that begins this week.

Monday was the last day House bills could pass through the House, and representatives spent their session listening to third readings of 29 bills.

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