By Anastasia Gentry
The debate surrounding gun applications is just beginning at the Statehouse.
Senators Wednesday started to discuss removing questions about DUI convictions from the application used by Indiana State Police for a license to carry.
“All I was trying to do was just get the State Police to remove those words, ‘Including a DUI?’ Not changing anything else,” Sen. James Tomes
, R-Wadesville, said.
Tomes, the author of Senate Bill 36
, said misdeameanors are not grounds for automatically refusing a permit, only felonies. He sees no point in asking about DUI’s specifically.
“State Police can still do these checks on handgun applications. Anybody in the system is gonna get pulled up. You’ve got domestic violence. You’ve got DUIs to the point where you’ve got a felony. You’re through,” said Tomes.
But those who testified strongly disagreed.
Kathy Williams, a representative from The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
, said guns and alcohol could be a deadly situation. She provided statistics from Indiana law enforcement agencies that show up to 80 percent of their domestic violence runs involve alcohol abuse.
“Essentially what we’re saying is the combination of alcohol and access to handguns is a lethal combination in situations of domestic abuse. And given the very mild nature of the existing statute, it is only a small stop gap,” said Williams.
Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, disagreed with Williams, saying the DUI question is unnecessary.
“Unless it’s a felony or domestic violence, asking the question on there doesn’t keep anybody from getting a license,” said Young.
“That’s why we couldn’t figure out why the question was on the form. It’s meaningless,” said Young.
Other speakers also used their testimony to oppose Tomes’s bill. Jody Madeira, a professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University-Bloomington, strongly opposed the bill, saying anyone with an alcohol-related conviction has already “forfeited their right to carry a firearm.”
“Gun licenses are more than just pieces of paper. That paper conveys an important right. A right that a lot of people, including me in this room, want to uphold and protect the right to carry a handgun. But multiple studies as well as the Centers for Disease Control link alcohol abuse to gun violence,” said Madeira.
Discussion is expected to resume at the committee’s next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20.