Indiana lawmaker looks to eliminate gun-free zones after state makes lifetime permits free

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)— It’s been one week since a new Indiana law made it free for Hoosiers to apply for lifetime gun permits. The response overwhelmed the Indiana State Police Department.

On July 1, the Indiana State Police firearms licensing website experienced a “high number” of applicants that stopped many in their tracks as they attempted to apply for a lifetime gun permit. On that first day, more than seven thousand Hoosiers applied for the licenses.

Within the first week, Indiana State Police told WANE 15 that more than 25,000 people had signed up for the license.

Indiana House Representative Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) believes that the new law was long overdue.

“This is something that should have never been a discussion to begin with – licensing a constitutional right,” said Rep. Jim Lucas. “So the state is not allowing it. We are relinquishing the infringement we’ve been putting on Hoosier citizens for all this time.”

A line in the state’s two-year budget that passed during the 2021 legislative session eliminated the $125 fee that Hoosiers once had to pay for the license.

The state is already feeling the pinch.

In one week, the state lost an estimated $3.1 million that used to come from the handgun license fee. That money used to go to local police departments.

Lucas said he believes that the state should not be using the license of a ‘constitutional right for revenue.’

“I support our police officers and believe they should be trained but that should be a debt load that is spread evenly amongst society and not the backs of people exercising their constitutional right,” said Rep. Lucas. “Several years ago I had an amendment that passed into law that recognized the rights of the local counties so local officials can raise tax revenues for the amount of money they want to put toward training their officers.”

Representative Jim Lucas has been a member of the house for the past 9 years. He authored House Bill 1284, which allowed for free 5-year firearm licenses.

Now, with the passage and new law of free lifetime handgun licenses, the representative says the next step is ‘complete recognition of second amendment rights.’

“People should have a right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state, period,” said Lucas. “There should be no license required for either open or concealed carry. As long as you are not a prohibited person in the state of Indiana your rights should be recognized. So that’s the next step and I will be submitting legislation again next legislative session to eliminate the infringement of our rights.”

Lucas also believes that there shouldn’t be background checks to exercise a person’s constitutional right, referencing the numerous shootings that have taken place over the past year in Indianapolis and Marion County.

As of July 2, Indianapolis had 124 homicides. Lucas argues that a majority of the gunman in those shooting would not be able to pass a background check. He believes local prosecutors’ offices have to be harder on gun crimes and to stop ‘catching and releasing’ those facing gun charges and enforcing the laws in place.

Lucas says another infringement he is hoping to correct is to eliminate Gun-Free Zones. He believes that having those zones makes law-abiding citizens easy targets.

“The way I see them, the only thing gun laws do is they make people that obey gun laws, easy victims, for those who don’t obey gun laws,” Lucas said. “Apply the laws we have. Once they break the law hold them accountable.”

A 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research study revealed that right-to-carry laws increase, rather than decrease, violent crime. The study also found that higher rates of gun ownership is correlated with higher homicide rates.

WANE 15’s sister station KXAN in Austin, Texas also looked into mass shootings in America from 2000 to 2019 with data from ALERRT, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training.

The data showed that citizens stopped shooters 50 times in the 316 attacks. But in only 10 out of those 50 incidents did citizens actually stop the shooter by using a gun. The other 40 times, it was with their hands or another weapon.

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