U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- What follows is this correspondent’s view of what happened at the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on February 23, 2022. The hearing was on HB 1077, Constitutional Carry. There were about eight hours of testimony at the hearing. This correspondent did not watch all of it. The impressions gained by watching a couple of hours of the hearing, and the votes, have been supplemented with comments from the Indiana Gun Owners Forum, where members watched most of the hearing and votes.
The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Liz Brown (R) was openly hostile to the bill. The Judiciary Committee was where Constitutional Carry was killed in 2021. The committee hearing was orchestrated to create publicity and cover for Republicans to kill the bill. Chairman Brown was openly more favorable to the three Democrats on the Committee than to the Republicans.
The opposition appeared to have been given prior notice of when the committee would be held. The hearing was packed with opposition. Several officers from Wayne, Indiana testified. The impression was the opposition was given plenty of notice to prepare and be ready for a Wednesday afternoon hearing, before the hearing was officially announced. Both sides were represented.
This correspondent did not see much of the testimony in favor of the bill.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter testified against the bill. Carter was appointed to the position by Indiana Governor Holcombe (R) From indianagunowners.com:
To sample some of the egregious comments by Indiana State Police (ISP) superintendent Doug Carter, he attacked the legislative process in IN because a bill came forward that he dislikes and that we allow public comments that he disapproves of, attacked the republican party for being a super majority and claimed that the committee was stifling the minority despite Democrats asking question after question of those testifying and he also stated “We are all guilty until we prove our innocence.“ Doug Carter is not a person who is concerned with the welfare of the residents of Indiana or of your constituents like me. Carter and those opposed to this legislation as intended do no respect our civil rights like those affirmed in Pinner V. State (2017).
Several officers from Fort Wayne, Indiana testified. They claimed they did not have access to the FBI NICS system to check if a person is prohibited from possessing a firearm or not. The impression was given the problems common in Fort Wayne were representative of the entire state, which appears to be inaccurate.
One officer claimed a two-week wait for a permit was not a significant impediment to exercising the right to bear arms.
Another (Fort Wayne officer?), Officer Goodman, said he commonly did not carry while off duty. He claimed more people carrying would create more danger.
The three Democrats on the committee came across as ignorant of existing Indiana gun law, constitutional rights, and police procedure. Their ignorance was embarrassing.
Chief Steve Reed, City of Fort Wayne Chief of Police, speaking for Indiana chiefs of police, and others, testified against the bill. He said, every day his detectives are fighting this war on guns. He was uninformed when asked about what happened in other states. His ignorance was embarrassing for a Chief of Police.
These numbers may not be precise, but as recalled, a Fort Wayne police officer testified 147 people were arrested for illegally carrying firearms. However, 800+ handguns were confiscated during the same period (2021?)
147 arrests. 800+ handguns confiscated. The math does not add up. Is there an issue with the legalized theft of handguns in Fort Wayne, Indiana?
Edward Merchant, representing the Fraternal Order of Police, testified in strong opposition to the bill. He claimed, if Constitutional Carry passes, officers will have *no tool* to enforce the law against felons and misdemeanor domestic violence offenders.
Felons and misdemeanor domestic violence offenders who illegally possess firearms are often arrested in states which already have Constitutional Carry.
A representative for the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney Counsel (IPAC) testified against the bill. She used highly selective data to lie with statistics about the effects of Constitutional Carry in other states.
She only cited states that passed Constitutional Carry in 2019, just before the spike in crime and attacks on police, created by the BLM movement, Leftist riots, and the defund the police movement. She claimed Constitutional Carry resulted in more attacks on police officers.
This is classic lying with statistics. It is highly unethical. When people limit the data, they do so for a reason. The reason is not science. It is partisanship.
It appeared no testimony about other states’ experience either by experts or by officials in those states, was allowed. John Lott did not testify, for example. The timing of the committee hearing might have been designed to prevent such testimony. From indianagunowners.com:
Last night, the Senate Judiciary Committee made an 11th-hour change to the bill to strip it of its intended purpose, mostly based on emotionally manipulative testimony and junk data. One primary claim of the law enforcement officers who oppose this bill is that the removal of the licensing system will endanger officers. There is no data to support this. The data that does exist shows no conclusive trend across states and in fact no statistically significant difference for the states that have passed permitless carry. The answer is rather simple: Criminals don’t abide by licensing schemes. Murderers, rapists, and gang members do not concern themselves with the small penalty of carrying unlawfully (but the current scheme’s standards) compared to their actual crimes.
The Chair, Liz Brown (R) offered a series of amendments designed to destroy the bill. The amendment which the sponsor of the bill said “gutted the intent” of the bill passed 6 to 5. Two other Republicans joined with the Chair (Liz Brown (R), and the three Democrats, to “gut the bill”.
The amended (gutted) bill was voted on. It passed unanimously, 11-0 at about 8:24 p.m. The opposition voted for it because it was gutted. The proponents voted for it in the hope it could be restored with an amendment in the full Senate. It was the only way they could get it out of the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Liz Brown.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.