During the four-day Labor Day weekend, there were 16 armed robberies involving guns in Indianapolis, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told state lawmakers Thursday.
So far in 2017, there have been 1,100 cases filed involving handguns in the county, he said.
Also filed were 101 misdemeanor cases of carrying a handgun without a license; 58 of those cases had an additional offense.
Those statistics point to the need to keep Indiana’s handgun permit law intact, he told members of the Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy.
The committee is exploring whether to eliminate the process and allow Hoosiers to carry handguns without state permits. Proponents feel the existing process conflicts with the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Curry, as have numerous police agencies, said the permitting process helps protect officers allowing them to legally question if a person has a handgun license.
“This is currently a tool that we are able to use legally to investigate and prosecute other criminal activity in addition to carrying a handgun without a license,” Curry said. “We believe the permitting requirement should remain.” In more than four hours of presentations, the committee heard mostly from Hoosiers who wanted to keep the handgun permit system in place. The third and final hearing of the committee is set for Oct. 12 at the Statehouse.
“Elimination of a license to carry would make it easier to traffic guns and more difficult to get them off our streets because an individual will not need to show a permit,” said Ed Smith, president of Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence. A study by Chicago police showed that Indiana ranked second in supplying guns used in crimes.
Of more than 15,000 guns traced from 2001 to 2012, police found 7,747 of them came from Indiana.
Smith suggested that if the permit system is eliminated, legislators consider barring handguns for people under court-ordered domestic violence charges and having three alcohol offenses. He also recommended the age of concealed carry, which is allowed in Indiana, be raised from 18 to 21.
An Indianapolis woman, Nakia Bowens, obtained a permit to carry a gun by applying online through the Indiana State Police website. She said she felt safer because of the permit process.
“I felt that this process was not difficult or time consuming and is a necessary step people should have to go through in order to carry a gun in public,” she said in a statement read by a friend, Jennifer Crossley. She added, “I fear that removing the permit requirements would open us up to more racial profiling since it would still be illegal to have a gun with a felony. Police officers would have to verify those carrying are clean. And who will they choose to check more often than not? Those in poor and browner communities.”