Indiana Senate leader says Constitutional Carry not dead yet

AP Photo/Michael Hill

The long and convoluted path towards Constitutional Carry in Indiana took another detour this week, but the head of the state Senate claims Republicans have a plan to get the bill across the finish line before this year’s session expires.

On Wednesday, a Senate committee gutted the original language of HB 1077, removing all references to permitless carry and replacing them with a provision allowing some individuals who’ve applied for a carry license to be able to legally bear arms while their license applications are being processed. Supporters of the Constitutional Carry bill said at the time that they would move to amend the bill back to its original form when it was debated on the Senate floor, but on Thursday Senate President Rodrick Bray ruled that the committee’s changes violated Senate rules, and that HB 1077 is now done for the year.

Bray, however, told reporters on Thursday that Republicans can still revive the language by adding it to another bill.

“And then debate it here on the floor of the Senate, debate it over in the House and see if it can move,” Bray said.

There’s no indication yet which bill the handgun language will be moved into.

They need to figure that out fast, because there’s only a couple of weeks left in the legislative session.

That is, of course, assuming that Bray is sincerely trying to get Constitutional Carry passed. Last year a Constitutional Carry bill also sailed through the state’s House of Representatives, only to be quietly killed off in the Senate when the head of the Judiciary Committee (the same committee that gutted this year’s bill just a few days ago) refused to hold a hearing for the measure before a critical deadline. At the time, Bray defended the decision and criticized the legislation, noting objections from many law enforcement agencies across the state.

Bray’s main concern was a provision that requires various government agencies to create a database detailing who cannot carry a firearm. He, and others, argued creating that database by the deadline in the bill just is not doable.

“Law enforcement believes being able to access this information in the middle of the night during a traffic stop is important and thus, so do I,” Bray said. “The bottom line is law enforcement’s ability to determine who is prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon is important and this bill does not achieve that.”

He pointed to a number of organizations that had concerns about the bill, including Indiana State Police and Second Amendment rights groups The National Association of Gun Rights and Hoosier Gun Rights.

“Obviously, our Second Amendment freedoms are critically important and we intend to preserve it,” Bray concluded on his post. “I have concerns with moving forward with HB 1369 for these reasons.”

Bray is singing a different tune this session, but the end result may very well be the same as last year: broad support for Constitutional Carry in the state capitol, yet no Constitutional Carry law on the books.

I’m not ready to declare the push for permitless carry in Indiana to be hopeless this year, but if it’s gonna happen, Republicans are going to have to find a new vehicle and get it rolling in the next couple of days. And if gun owners get burned once again, I hope we see some primary challenges to the current Republican leadership.