Proposed Indiana bill to end gun fees is back on the table

("handgun" by Robert Nelson, CC BY 2.0)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO) – Lawmakers in Indiana put a bill back on the table to end handgun licensing fees and allow citizens to carry a gun to schools and churches, according to the Journal Gazette.

Indiana Republican Representative from Seymour, Jim Lucas says “I don’t think a citizen should have to pay to exercise a constitutional right” and adds “Our rights should not be dependent on how much revenue the government can make.”

The bill would eliminate the $125 fee for a lifetime carry permit starting in July of 2020.  According to an analysis, this would cost the state $3.2 million in revenue in 2021. Local police will also be effected as they will lose an estimated $1.6 million in 2021 and $3.2 million every year after that.

Dave Wedding, Vanderburgh County Sheriff, President of the Indiana Sheriff’s Association and a longtime NRA member, is against the bill because the loss of revenue for local police will have a tremendous negative effect.  Wedding said counties are already low on funds to treat inmates and the mentally ill and this would make it much worse.

Chris Kopacki, NRA state Director, says “When a fee is attached to a right, it really is no longer a right. It’s a privilege.”  However, Democratic Representative of Indianapolis, Dan Forestal said that citizens have to pay permit fees to assemble or march despite their First Amendment rights.  Hunters also have to buy hunting and fishing licenses even though a constitutional amendment gives a citizen a right to fish and hunt.  Though some believe all of those fees should be eliminated despite the effect on revenue.

Churches that share property with a school will also be effected by the bill.  Presently, attendees cannot carry guns when at church services even if the church officials say it is okay when there is a school on the property.  The new bill would leave the decision of guns on the property to the heads of the church whether there is a school on the church property or not.

A representative from Everytown for Gun Safety, Trevor Vance, has no issues with the bill though would like to add an amendment that would keep guns separate from school children.  For instance, if a person has a gun and attends a bible study class, should not be allowed to attend a school ball game on the property with the weapon.  Matt Lehman, Republican Representative from Berne, stated he would be willing to address that by adding language for an amendment.

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