The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 21, 2022 1:00 am


In the crosshairs

Senate last brake on ill-considered revocation of Indiana's gun-registration law

EDITORIAL BOARD | The Journal Gazette

On Wednesday, Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed shared information with the media gathered outside the mayor's office to hear about the department's effectiveness in 2021. Crime was down 6% overall from the year before; violent crime was down 36%. Homicide detectives compiled a case-clearance rate of 76% that is double-digit points higher than the national average. FWPD officers had taken more than 850 guns off the street, including 39 related to murders.

There was a hint of pride by both Reed and Mayor Tom Henry when talking about the department's year and its future, including a new academy class graduating soon. Henry told the media that Fort Wayne is headed in the right direction.

So, it's hard to balance this good news with that coming out of Indianapolis. Why is the state legislature trying to make the difficult job of law enforcement harder?

If the GOPsupermajority has its way, Indiana will be headed in the wrong direction by dropping the state's handgun permit law. This despite hearing testimony in the House that Indiana State Police had stopped more than 10,000 people not legally allowed to carry a firearm from obtaining a license.

Hoosiers aren't clamoring for an end to permitting, including those who live in the district of the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn. Nearly two-thirds of his constituents told him so in a 2019 survey. He filed a bill anyway. Surveys by colleagues in other districts showed that a preponderance of those asked wanted to keep the state's current handgun permit laws intact.

Soon, the Senate will argue the merits of this bill, and we hope they'll be more attentive to the wishes of police chiefs and the state police than was the House earlier this month.

Reed said Wednesday that he's disappointed the state is moving in this direction, as it eliminates important information used by officers in his department to do their jobs. He agrees with the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police's assessment that this bill is terrible policy and also dangerous.

“Should this bill pass, there will be no means for our officers to know if a person is legally carrying a handgun,” Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly, representing the police chief's association, told the House committee. “I don't understand why we want to strip away one of the most effective tools that law enforcement has to prevent avoidable, gun-related events in our communities.”

Although the state sheriff's association is neutral on this issue, Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux was quite blunt in his assessment.

“It's the dumbest legislation I've ever heard,” Gladieux said Thursday afternoon. “Is this about inconvenience? Well, it's taking a tool right out of our tool kit.”

Gladieux said the association did not poll its members, but he is certain the majority would say they are against it.

He's not anti-Second Amendment, Gladieux said, but pro-common sense.

We implore our local senators to demonstrate common sense and use their influence on their colleagues to consider what exercising our current handgun laws means for us all. No one wants to hear local law enforcement officials having to explain how a future injury or even death could've been avoided had the information been available.

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