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House, Senate Reverse Course on Bills Relaxing Gun Laws

Bills on permit fees, background checks, guns in churches are off the table for now, but could return


(INDIANAPOLIS) - Two bills reducing fees and restrictions on guns are dead at the statehouse -- for the time being.

The House had overwhelmingly approved a bill repealing the fee for lifetime gun permits, while exempting holders of five-year permits from undergoing background checks when they buy a gun. But that vote came before the Florida school shooting which has rekindled a national debate over guns. House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long both say now isn't the time to relax background checks. The Senate Appropriations Committee pulled the plug on the bill, declining to give it a hearing before a noon Thursday deadline.

Meanwhile, the House declined to vote on a Senate bill carving out an exception to Indiana's ban on guns on school property. Indianapolis Republican Jack Sandlin's bill would have permitted churches which share a campus with schools to allow permitholders to carry guns when school is not in session. That bill, too, had passed with overwhelming support. But legislators had loaded the House calendar with 19 amendments from both sides of the gun issue. Bosma says several of those amendments would have triggered "very emotional and high-pitched" debates that would get in the way of thoughtful legislating.

The bill had languished on the House calendar for four days, with Democratic amendments to ban bump stocks or automatic weapons, and Republican amendments to repeal not only the ban on guns at school, but bans at the statehouse, state parks, the State Fairgrounds, and casinos.

Because both bills did pass one chamber earlier in the session, provisions could still be added to other bills as the House and Senate iron out differences over the next two weeks. Bosma says the background check provisions won't return, but he and Long both say they'll try to get back to something closer to what was originally filed.

Both chambers had passed different versions of the fee repeal. Bosma says the House and Senate Public Policy chairmen -- Representative Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) and Senator Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) -- will be in charge of trying to find common ground.


(Photo: Marian Vejcik/Thinkstock)

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