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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ind. Law - "House Public Policy Committee retains felony penalty for guns at school"

Two stories today on the committee action on HB 1048.

Niki Kelly's story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette begins:

INDIANAPOLIS – Lawmakers turned back an attempt Wednesday to lessen the criminal penalty for bringing a gun into a school.

House Bill 1048 originally would have dropped that crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

But the House Public Policy Committee amended the legislation to retain current law as a felony.

Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte – chairman of the panel – said he was uncomfortable with reducing the criminal penalty for the crime.

The remaining portion of the bill redefines what is considered school property to exclude adjacent property such as parking lots.

This means that teachers, visitors and students with a valid license to carry a handgun can keep firearms in their locked vehicles – out of sight – in school parking lots.

The gun cannot be carried into the school building or on a school bus.

Dan Carden's long story in the NWI Times is headed "Dermody persuades panel to revise guns-at-schools plan." Some quotes:
State Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, skillfully handled a controversial guns-at-schools proposal Wednesday during his first meeting as chairman of the House Public Policy Committee.

House Bill 1048, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, originally would have made it a misdemeanor, instead of a felony, for a person to bring a firearm into a school, on school bus or on school property.

Lucas, who unsuccessfully tried last year to require at least one person in every school be armed at all times, said licensed handgun carriers shouldn't face a potential felony conviction, and the corresponding loss of their Second Amendment rights, just for stepping on school property while armed.

Well aware Lucas' idea likely wouldn't fly with prosecutors, school leaders and most lawmakers, Dermody worked with representatives of those groups, and Lucas, prior to the committee meeting to hammer out a compromise.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 16, 2014 10:22 AM
Posted to Indiana Law