|Legislative Report 2nd Quarter 2011|
|Written by Bill Dowden, Legislative Director|
|Friday, 29 April 2011 18:47|
This session of the General Assembly started in January with very good prospects for legislation favorable to lawful citizens' possession and use of firearms. Several very good bills, which in no way would contribute to reckless or unlawful use of guns, but would in fact aid law-abiding Hoosier gun owners, were introduced in both the Senate and the House. The Senate bills received timely consideration and were passed from committee to the full Senate where they were passed with significant majorities. They were sent on to the House for action; but before that could occur, the Democrat caucus walked out, denying the House a quorum for over five weeks. Consequently, the Senate approved bills were stalled until the House regained a quorum.
Three Senate bills which have made it through both houses are: Senator Steele's SB 154 which provides for carrying a loaded handgun on an off-road vehicle or snowmobile under certain circumstances; Senators Nugent and Tomes' SB 411 which clarifies and strengthens last year's Parking Lot firearms protection act by prohibiting employers requiring employees to register their firearms serial number and other pertinent information with the employer; and Senators Hume and Tomes' SB 434 which extended the term of a retail handgun dealers license from two years to six and increasing the fee from $20 to $60.
Two very important bills, which have passed the Senate with substantial majorities, but are awaiting action in the House, are Senate Bill 506, authored by Senators Tomes and Kruse; and Senate Bill 292, authored by Senator Tomes.
SB 506 was heard in the House Public Policy committee and received a unanimous do-pass vote April 6, and has been sent back to the House for second and third reading. Currently transporting a handgun in a vehicle without a license to carry is very limited. Several sportsmen have unknowingly violated the law by possessing a handgun at a range without a license. SB 506 allows for carrying a handgun in a vehicle if the lawful owner has the handgun unloaded, securely wrapped and not easily accessible, and is on his way to or from a shooting range, instructional course, a legal hunting event, or lawfully on private property. This bill, like the others, is readily available on the General Assembly website for gun owners to read the legislation in its entirety.
Senator Jim Tomes' SB 292 (the State firearms preemption bill) is certainly a high priority bill for all lawful Indiana gun owners in view of the vast patchwork of local ordinances regarding the right to keep and bear arms throughout the 92 counties. Despite the red herrings thrown out by the anti-gun opponents, this bill simply prohibits a political subdivision (such as a town, city or county) from enacting ordinances more restrictive than State law. The existing local ordinances have no real effect on truly criminal activity, because they are not criminal law. If one violates a local ordinance, it is merely an infraction and the local authority cannot impose jail time for that.
Contrary to what some of the opponents were saying, SB 292 does not prohibit the NFL from banning firearms at the Super Bowl, nor Jimmy Irsay from banning firearms at the Colts games, or the Pacers from banning guns when they are playing at Conseco Fieldhouse. They already have the right to determine what ticketholders can carry into the game. If the opponents took time to read the bill, they would realize (if they chose) the bill applies to "political subdivisions." Moreover, despite what a newspaper reporter wrote, they would also learn that the bill does not require hospitals to permit people to bring in guns.
Like the other gun bills, SB 292 was reported, "do pass" by a nearly unanimous vote in the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters. On February 14, four Democrat Senators (Lindel Hume, Frank Mrvan, Timothy Skinner, and Richard Young) joined 34 Republicans in support of the bill. Three Republican Senators (Beverly Gard, Luke Kenley and Tom Wyss) voted with nine Democrats against the bill. The bill currently is in the House Public Policy committee and is expected to receive favorable treatment.
If action on these bills is not complete when you receive this, please call or write your State Representative to register your support. Do not forget to thank them when they have voted in your favor. Your Representative can be called at 800-382-9842 and your Senator at 800-382-9467. They all have e-mail addresses at the Statehouse, so you can communicate with them easily by electronic mail.
Your freedoms are determined by your actions!