Editorial: Permit-less carry handcuffs law officers

The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin

During the second quarter of this year, about one-fifth of the Madison County residents who applied for handgun permits were turned down in their requests. The same is true for Vigo, Cass and Miami counties to name a few.

Last year, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law a bill that removed the requirement that Hoosiers obtain a firearms license to legally carry a handgun for Hoosiers 18 and over. Indiana lawmakers often called it the constitutional carry bill.

A person can still apply for a lifetime or five-year firearms permit, which gives the license-holder the ability to carry in reciprocating states where licenses are required. Hoosiers can be denied in their application if they have been convicted of a felony, are under 18 or certain other prohibitions.

But the application statistics underscore that one-fifth of the license-seekers should not be receiving firearms licenses. Yet they are still applying for them.

Are they confused by the new law, or trying to circumvent it?

During the second quarter of 2023, a total of 4,267 licenses were approved by the Indiana State Police, with 899 rejected or 17% of the 5,166 total statewide. There are counties with higher percentages. Clearly, applications are down substantially since the new law went into effect as there were 1.2 million active licenses in July 2022.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle news group dove deeper into applications as Indiana observes one year with permit-less carry.

Perhaps as expected, misdemeanor charges for unlawful carry have dropped.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle found that, in 91 counties from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, local prosecutors filed 3,940 Class A misdemeanors for carrying a handgun without a license. Another 2,064 Level 5 felonies were filed under the same statute.

But since July of last year, when the new law went into effect, the applicable criminal citation for unlawful carrying of a handgun only 939 Class A misdemeanors were filed for that charge. But 2,040 felony charges were filed — nearly as many as before.

That bears interpretation: Gun crimes are up.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings told the news agency that he filed 65 Class A misdemeanors from 2021 to 2022 and 51 such offenses the following year, after the new law went into place.

Or as he said, “Our shootings are way up — we’re doing about three shootings a week now. Part of the reason is because everybody thinks they can carry a gun, and they can’t.”

There is a summary to this trend.

More Hoosiers can carry handguns without permits. Crimes are still being committed, at a comparable pre-2022 rate, by people carrying guns.

There are fewer ways for police to monitor criminals and arrest them for illegal possession of firearms.

In short, Indiana lawmakers made it easier for Hoosiers to commit crimes with guns. That is a scary motion.

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