As a young lad, I asked my parents to allow me to do some pretty foolish things. Consequently, I heard my mother say the following quite often, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?”

Her question was rhetorical, of course. She wasn’t looking for an answer. She was trying to make a simple point… “it’s not good to do something stupid, even if everyone else is doing it.” What mom was really doing, I now realize, was trying to get me to think for myself.

Sadly, in this day and age of political bickering and back-biting, we often hear of politicians doing foolish things and using the childish excuse that “everyone else is doing it.”

Such is the case with House Bill 1077, which made its way out of committee in the Senate late Wednesday evening. Dubbed the “Constitutional Carry” bill, HB 1077 was introduced to allow anyone 18 or older to carry a gun in Indiana without a permit — with a few exceptions. Wednesday night an amendment removed the permit-less carry label and granted a provisional license to qualified applicants, cutting down wait times. Supporters of HB 1077 aren’t finished fighting for the bill in its original form, which passed the House in January. If it’s signed into law this year, Indiana would join 21 other states allowing gun owners to carry without a permit.

Indiana should not join those ranks because, as your mother would tell you, “Just because someone else is jumping off a bridge doesn’t mean you should.”

I own guns. I have pistols, shotguns and rifles. I love to hunt. I enjoy shooting for recreation as often as I can. I also possess a lifetime permit to carry a weapon in Indiana. I’m not in favor of government dictating every move its citizens make. I’d fight efforts made by anyone to take my guns away. There are responsible men and women I would trust to protect me with a firearm should the need arise. Likewise, I know people who shouldn’t go near a gun for any reason.

The problem with HB 1077 is twofold: First, requiring a permit to carry a firearm isn’t an infringement on our rights as citizens. It’s a safeguard — a weak one — but a safeguard to help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t be carrying them — legally or otherwise. The permit system is simple to walk through if you want to carry a firearm. It doesn’t take much effort or time. It doesn’t infringe on your Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

Oddly, proponents of the Constitutional carry argument often neglect the wording in the Second Amendment that states, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state….”

There’s that dirty word — regulated. Many who favor open carry argue that the government shouldn’t regulate our freedom to bear a firearm. If we’re going to use the Second Amendment as a defense for open carry, we must include it all.

Regulate, by definition, states, “to govern or direct according to rule….”

Indiana’s current system of requiring a permit to carry a firearm is flawed. It is, however, better than a law that allows anyone (with few exceptions) 18 or over to carry a weapon in public.

That leads to the second problem with HB 1077: Authors, sponsors and supporters of the bill assume that everyone knows how to use a gun. I’ve witnessed far too many incidents of unsafe practices with guns at controlled gun ranges. I shudder to think what might happen if an unprepared citizen feels compelled to pull a handgun in public.

What HB 1077 should address — and would make our state far safer — is mandatory certification from a gun safety class that teaches us how and when to pull and, God forbid, use a firearm, in public. Most of us cannot imagine the amount of adrenaline/ fear/anxiety that courses through one’s body in a live situation where shooting at another human being is eminent. I certainly cannot and I was raised around guns.

It’s a fool’s errand to think that ordinary citizens like you and me are equipped to safely pull a trigger on a would-be gunman in a public setting. There are ample statistics that tell us even trained police officers miss the mark as often as they hit it in a live shooting.

If Hoosiers believe that carrying a gun in public is fair and just, they ought to be willing to undergo training that makes it safe to do so. And, instead of pandering for votes, our elected officials across the state ought to be enacting legislation that actually protects its citizens by requiring mandatory training with firearms for those wishing to carry a gun.
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