By: José Niño
Indiana’s Constitutional Carry bill may not be all that it seems.
Sponsored by Indiana State Rep. Ben Smaltz, HB 1369 is Indiana’s ostensible Constitutional Carry bill.
Constitutional Carry has been at the top of the agenda for grassroots Second Amendment activist groups such as Hoosier Gun Rights for the past decade. Former House Speaker Brian Bosma had frustrated pro-Second Amendment Hoosiers time and time again while he served as the legislative gatekeeper from 2010 to 2020. Bosma made sure to kill Constitutional Carry each and every time it was introduced in the Indiana House.
After Bosma announced that he would be retiring as House Speaker in 2019, hope for Constitutional Carry naturally rose. Many activists in the Indiana political scene believed Bosma was the principal obstacle between Constitutionally Carry and its passage.
At first, State Rep. Smaltz answered the call by introducing HB 1369, the 2021 iteration of Constitutional Carry in Indiana. Everything looked good until Smaltz added poison pill amendments that now push back the effective date of the bill and mandate the establishment of databases that could potentially harm gun rights.
Moreover, Smaltz’s amendment would not allow for lawful Hoosiers to exercise Constitutional Carry on land that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages. Effectively, this leaves intact a DNR regulation that mandates a permit to carry on DNR property. That means law-abiding citizens could accidentally break the law when they go out camping, fishing, or visiting state parks.
Such provisions have irked organizations such as Hoosier Gun Rights, which routinely advocate for clean, coherent Constitutional Carry legislation. GPM spoke to National Association for Gun Rights’ Deputy Director of Field Operations, Chris McNutt, who has his finger on the pulse of Constitutional Carry legislation being introduced in other states.
According to McNutt:
"Indiana has a Republican super majority, yet they are acting like Democrats by trying to water-down and kill Constitutional Carry. They need to pass a clean bill like the other 18 states that were able to pass Constitutional Carry without a flawed government database attached to it.”
Indiana should serve as a lesson to all gun rights activists who have aspirations of passing Constitutional Carry. Otherwise, solid legislation can easily be tarnished by politicians who pretend to be “principled,” but deep down are using political ploys to enhance their power. By passing weakened legislation, these politicians can falsely claim to be “champions” of the grassroots and try to bring new people into their fold under misleading pretenses.
It is incumbent upon serious, no-compromise Second Amendment lobbies to expose such forms of legislation and instead call upon their elected officials to pass clean versions of Constitutional Carry.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.