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(The Center Square) – A bill that allows Indiana gun owners to lawfully carry a gun without having to get a government-issued license is working its way through the state Senate after already passing the House.

House Bill 1369 received its first reading in the Senate Judiciary Committee recently after easily passing the House last month, and state representatives continue to trumpet the effort as an elimination of government regulations that limit the rights of gun owners.

“Hoosiers who respect the law are the ones going through the application process to carry a firearm – not criminals,” said Rep. Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomington. “If passed, law-abiding citizens won’t have to jump through hoops to defend themselves or their loved ones."

Sens. Erin Houchin, R-Salem; Eric Koch, R-Bedford; and Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, sponsored the bill in the Senate. It’s not on the agenda for Wednesday’s committee meeting.

According to Ellington, gun owners in Indiana must complete an online firearms application, schedule a fingerprint appointment and complete local law enforcement agency processing within 180 days. Then, the application goes to the Indiana State Police for final review.

The bill eliminates the process, but does not change how to legally buy a handgun. That, according to Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, helps to ensure legal gun buys.

“Currently, Hoosiers submit to background checks prior to the commercial purchase of a handgun and again when they want to carry it,” Mayfield said. “There’s no need for this duplication and the financial burden it imposes upon lawful citizens who want to exercise their constitutional right.”

Reciprocity permits, including the five-year and lifetime permits, still will be available if the bill passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Money collected from handgun permits help fund firearms training, ammunition, range training, body armor and other law enforcement expenses across the state. Rep. Bob Heaton, R-Terre Haute, said the lost revenue would be made up in the state budget.

“The right to own a handgun without needing a state-issued license is already allowed in many parts of the country,” Heaton said. “Being able to protect yourself and others is a freedom that Indiana should not impede for Hoosiers who follow the law.”

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.