SOUTH BEND — The ability of police officers to check whether someone carrying a handgun has a permit is a tool to find people who should not have weapons, and local leaders say a pending law to take away the permit requirement is a threat to the community.

Several local law enforcement and community leaders on Friday spoke against House Bill 1296, the bill Indiana lawmakers approved on Tuesday that would eliminate the license requirement to carry a handgun.

South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski was joined by St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter, South Bend Mayor James Mueller and Isaac Hunt of the Group Violence Intervention Project, in asking Gov. Eric Holcomb to veto the measure.

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Under House Bill 1296, anyone who legally can carry a handgun now could do so without a permit moving forward. That includes Hoosiers 18 years and older. 

While all who spoke on Friday defended the Second Amendment, they explained the need for police officers to have the gun license "tool," especially when it comes to violent offenders in the community.

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