Local officials, law enforcement speak out against permitless carry bill

NOW: Local officials, law enforcement speak out against permitless carry bill

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Local officials joined law enforcement Friday to speak out against Indiana House Bill 1296, if signed by Governor Holcomb it would allow any Hoosier 18 and up who’s legally able to carry a handgun in public to do so without needing a permit.

A move local officials fear could make it harder for them to do their jobs but also lead to an uptick in violence in a city already struggling to get numbers down.

“If people cared about gun violence taking place and hoping it ends, why would they take away that hopeful layer. That’s the question I would have among many,” said South Bend Police Department Chief Scott Ruszkowski.

Chief Ruszkowski joined Mayor Mueller, and other local officials who publicly opposed the bill.

“Now we’d have to stop, research, run background checks and do all these things to try find out if someone has been convicted of a violent felony, or a violent misdemeanor, so how much longer is that going to take,” explained Chief Ruszkowski.

“We’re going to have more violence not just within our community but between members of the community and law enforcement because of misunderstandings because of concern that they have because anyone now can have a weapon and officers can’t investigate just because of the weapon,” added St. Joseph County Prosecutor, Ken Cotter.

However, local attorney Benjamin Blatt who represents several gun shops in Northern Indiana said he backs the ideas behind the bill, and believes it won’t make it easier for those who illegally carry guns to get them.

“But in terms of more people committing crimes I don’t think it’s going to make any major change because there is no criminal basis to make it easier for criminals to get the guns that would make it easier for them to carry especially because it’s creating this new law that says if you’re carrying you’re more at risk for police stops now,” added Blatt.

Some prior research has suggested that firearm homicides rates have increased in states with permitless carry laws in comparison to other states without them

Law enforcement said 15 people have already been  shot in South Bend this year and two dead, which is why they fear this bill could only make it easier for those committing these violence crimes to do so.

“It makes it more readily available for individuals to carry guns, it makes it unsafe for police officer who’s trying to patrol and keep our community safe in addition it’s making our residents unsafe,” said Gun Violence Intervention Advocate Isaac Hunt.

“We hope Governor Holcomb will veto this legislation,” added Mayor James Mueller.

Local officials joined St. Joseph County sheriff Redman and several law enforcement agencies statewide to oppose the legislation.

Governor Holcomb has not signed that bill into law just yet, but if he does Indiana will become the 22nd state with a lawful carry-law and the 20th since 2012.

If the bill becomes a law Hoosiers will still have to pass a federal background check to legally obtain a gun.

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