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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ind. Law - "Two bad gun laws" moving in the General Assembly

The heading of the editorial Jan. 25th in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette was "Two bad gun laws." Some quotes:

Americans are familiar with the gun lobby’s influence in Congress, but many Hoosiers may not know their own state legislators are being pressured to pass two pro-gun bills that would ill-serve Indiana.

Both proposals have passed the pro-gun House Natural Resources Committee, which includes Rep. Richard Dodge of Pleasant Lake. Both advance narrow pro-gun interests at the expense of sound public policy and the overall safety interests of Hoosiers.

Both should be defeated.

House Bill 1068 would seal a public record, an act that almost never serves the public. The bill would make permits to carry handguns a private record, no longer open to the public. These are not “gun permits”; these are licenses that specifically allow people to carry handguns in public. Such permits are not necessary to carry rifles or shotguns, nor are they needed to have a handgun in your home.

The move comes after the Indianapolis Star and the Bloomington Herald-Times published information about gun permits. Notably, neither paper published the names and addresses of permit holders – the information the gun lobby says should be secret. The Star’s story, in fact, illustrated exactly why the permits should be a public record: It found numerous instances where the carry permits were wrongly issued to convicted felons or unwisely issued over the recommendations of local police chiefs and sheriffs.

Supporters of the law want to deny the scrutiny that could uncover future cases where convicted felons get permits to carry concealed handguns. And gun rights advocates should note that public scrutiny of records can also guard against people being wrongly denied carry permits.

House Bill 1065 would require businesses to allow their employees to leave guns in their cars in employee parking lots. Consider that the same conservatives supporting this bill generally reject new regulations on business. Consider, too, that businesses have long had the right to control what kind of personal belongings employees are and are not allowed to bring to business property.

Interestingly, the bill specifically would rightly allow schools and universities to continue to ban guns. In other words, the bill notes the dangers in allowing guns to be kept in locked vehicles at schools and colleges but pretends there are no similar dangers at businesses. * * *

Lawmakers, unfortunately, fear the gun lobby, known for vicious and personal verbal and written attacks on anyone who dares to disagree. Hoosiers need to let their lawmakers know that they oppose government secrets and oppose the government telling businesses that they must allow their workers to pack heat on company property.

The headline to this story posted yesterday by by Mary Beth Schneider in the Indianapolis Star is "House OKs bill to keep gun permits secret." The story notes:
House Bill 1068, which was authored by Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, was prompted by databases published in The Indianapolis Star and the Bloomington Herald-Times. Those databases did not identify gun permit holders by name or address, but did allow people to search their ZIP code to see the number of permits held in that area.

The Star used the gun permit information to investigate the state’s process for issuing them, learning that violent individuals were granted permits, sometimes against the wishes of local police departments.

Here is a link to the lengthy Oct. 11, 2009 Star investigative story by Mark Alesia, Heather Gillers, Tim Evans and Mark Nichols, headed "Should these Hoosiers have been allowed to carry a gun in public?."

Here is a link to the Star's online database that allows you to see how many gun permit owners live in your area. From "about the database":

In researching a story on repeat violent offenders who managed to get license-to-carry gun permits from the Indiana State Police despite their lengthy criminal records, The Star examined more than 300,000 records in the state police permit database, as of Aug. 20, 2009.

Although the state police database contains the names and addresses of permit holders, those details are not included in the database posted here -- which is limited to demographic profiles of Indiana permit holders by gender, race and age in each ZIP code.

The database available to subscribers of the Bloomington Herald Tribune includes street name, city, county, number of permits on the street, and permit type, according to this story. But not names and addresses.

"Gun bills advance to Senate with ease: One closes database; 2nd allows firearms in cars at workplace," is the headline to this story today in the Journal Gazette, reported by Niki Kelly. A quote:

The second piece of legislation – House Bill 1065 – would allow employees to have guns in their locked vehicles at work.

Many companies have policies against bringing firearms onto their property.

It passed 76-21 with supporters saying employees should have the right to have handguns in their cars for protection to and from work and opponents arguing it violates personal property rights.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 27, 2010 07:55 AM
Posted to Indiana Law