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Republican Leadership Kills Constitutional Carry Again in 2018

For the fourth straight year, Speaker Brian Bosma refuses to give Constitutional Carry a vote in the House
Many Indiana gun owners are frustrated - even angry - because the Republican leadership in the Indiana General Assembly refused to allow Constitutional Carry to get a vote again this year. I'm sure that there are pro-Second Amendment legislators in the General Assembly who are also frustrated by the party leadership's continued stone-walling on the bills introduced by Rep. Jim Lucas, Rep. Ben Smaltz and Rep. Tim Wesco that would allow permitless carry in Indiana.
Too many members of the Indiana General Assembly - including House Speaker Brian Bosma - give lip service to supporting the Second Amendment, yet undercut Constitutional Carry behind closed doors. Importantly, by refusing to give Constitutional Carry a conference hearing and a vote on the the floor of either chamber, the Republican leadership allows members of their caucus to flaunt their "A ratings" from the NRA and proclaim support for the Second Amendment while opposing Constitutional Carry behind the scenes. That way, these Republicans can have their cake and eat it too - they can declare themselves supporters of the Second Amendment without ever having to take a firm position on Constitutional Carry that could affect their rating with the NRA or cost them votes in their next Republican primary.
The real reason that Constitutional Carry didn't get a committee hearing this year - or a vote on the floor of the House - is because too many members of the Republican caucus and Republican leadership - and Speaker Bosma specifically - refused to support it. That left Rep. Ben Smaltz (chairman of the Public Policy Committee in the House and a strong supporter of the Second Amendment) with a very difficult decision. He could follow the mandate of his party leadership, or he could burn a tremendous amount of political capital and take Constitutional Carry forward in his committee, requiring members of that committee to vote one way or the other. If the bill passed out of committee, every member of the House would have had to take a public position on the bill through their vote on the chamber floor. Ultimately, the Republican leadership refused to let that happen, preferring to give Republicans cover and enable members of the caucus to express nominal support for the Second Amendment while avoiding a straight up-or-down vote on Constitutional Carry.
Naively, I actually believed that the dialogue in the Summer Study committee hearings would sway those Republicans who still had any doubts about Constitutional Carry. Sitting through every minute of those hearings (and testifying twice), it was abundantly clear that the supporters of Constitutional Carry had facts, logic and historical precedent on our side - and opponents had little else but emotion and speculation. Importantly, the experiences of the twelve states that have already adopted Constitutional Carry argued strongly in favor of Indiana's adoption of permitless carry, as the predictions of the "negative impacts on police officer and public safety" simply haven't unfolded in those states. Nonetheless, the results of those hearings ultimately failed to sway Republican leadership, who apparently never intended to let Constitutional Carry get a vote this year irrespective of what happened in Summer Study. Of course that means that a lot of us wasted a tremendous amount of time and effort on a process that was never going to make any difference anyway. Ultimately, the cynics who said that Summer Study was just a way of placating gun owners for a year - while Republican leadership never had any intention of acting on the recommendations of the Summer Study committee - were exactly right.
At his point, Hoosier voters need to realize that we're being duped by Republican leaders in the General Assembly who continue to voice support for the Second Amendment but have no plans to allow a vote on Constitutional Carry. NRA also needs to reexamine its rating system for state legislators - and inaction (or outright obstructionism) on important Second Amendment issues should significantly affect a politician's rating. Lastly, anyone who supports Constitutional Carry should demand to know your state senator's and representative's position on the issue and whether they've supported or opposed Constitutional Carry when the party caucus meets behind closed doors. The response you receive will likely begin with "I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment." Just be very cynical and challenge anything and everything that follows that preeamble, because lip-service support for the Second Amendment while opposing your Constitutional rights behind closed doors has worked far too well for far too long for far too many Indiana Republicans.

Guy A. Relford

Guy A. Relford is a Second Amendment attorney in Carmel, Indiana.  He is also the owner and chief instructor of Tactical Firearms Training, LLC in Indianapolis and the author of “Gun Safety & Cleaning for Dummies” (Wiley & Sons Publications, 2012).  He hosts “The Gun Guy with Guy Relford” on WIBC radio in Indianapolis every Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.

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