Gun-rights advocates notched another win in the fight over gun-carry laws on Monday.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcolm (R.) signed a bill removing the permit requirement for concealed carry. Bill HEA1296 will allow any adult who can lawfully own a handgun to carry it concealed without a permit. That makes Indiana the 24th state to adopt the policy. It also makes it the third state to do so this year.
Holcolm’s signiture comes after the state senate passed the bill 30-20, and the state house passed it 68-30 earlier this month. Holcolm told The Reload he would “make the best determination for all Hoosiers” shortly after the bill passed, and apparantly came down on the side of signing it. However, he did not respond to a request for comment on his decision.
Permitless gun-carry becoming law in Indiana is a new high water mark for the movement to liberalize gun-carry laws across the country. Gun carry regulation has only moved in one direction over the past 30 years: towards fewer restrictions. Permitless carry has only accelrated the trend with 22 states adopting the policy in less than 15 years. Alabama’s recent adoption of the policy made it the most common way to regulate gun carry in America. Now, Indiana’s adoption makes it likely permitless carry will be law in half of the country by the end of the year as Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R.) is also poised to sign a bill into law shortly.
That doesn’t mean the policy is without critics, though. Gun-control advocates and Democrats alike have slammed permitless carry in much the same way they did for laws which required concealed-carry permits be issued to anyone who qualified for them: by claiming they are dangerous and noting disaproval from some police groups.
“It is a scary day for Indiana,” Indiana state Senator Greg Taylor said after the Senate vote. “After lots of statewide opposition, the permitless carry bill passed out of the Legislature. I am extremely disappointed. This legislation is irresponsible and has the potential to cause an increase in gun violence across the state.”
Gun-rigths advocates have countered that little to no evidence suggests the policies have increased crime with some, including author John Lott, arguing the exact opposite. Advocates have also framed the issue as one of rights, and commonly refer to the policy as “Constitutional carry.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which backed the Indiana bill and many others across the country, cheered the bill.
“NRA thanks Gov. Holcomb for signing constitutional carry into law,” the group said in a statement. “Indiana already offers free lifetime carry permits, so constitutional carry ensures that law-abiding citizens who are already eligible to obtain a carry permit can access their right-to-carry without government red tape and delays.”
HEA1296 will go into effect on July 1st, 2022.