At the 1990 Convention of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., the League took the then rare step of adopting a gun control position. Debate on the Convention floor persuaded members to concur with the statement proposed by the LWV of Illinois, and to urge passage of federal legislation to control the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons in the United States, through letters to all members of Congress.
Since 2004, the League has had many strong concerns over major loopholes in the law, including:
• The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which would grant special protection for the gun industry by barring city, county or individual lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dismiss pending cases.
• The 2004 expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban.
• The Gun Show Loophole, which does not require dealers to run criminal background checks at gun shows.
• Congressional attempts to repeal District of Columbia gun safety laws because such action interfered with the right of self-government for DC citizens.
• Failure of other attempts to control gun violence, including requiring child safety locks on guns.
Now, the Indiana Legislature has convened a summer study committee of the Judiciary and Public Policy Committee to study a proposal for "permitless carry," to repeal the permit requirement for carrying an open or concealed loaded weapon in public by anyone — including violent and emotionally unstable people, weapons offenders and alcohol and drug abusers — with no background checks and no safety training.
At its first meeting on Aug. 22, the committee heard testimony from the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police, the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Sheriff's Association. Their unanimous opposition to the proposal was that it would make their jobs more difficult and decrease public safety.
LWVUS has adopted an extremely strong and clear position statement in favor of reasonable regulation of firearms, including a specific reference to licensing procedures in our "Position on Gun Control":
• The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons in the United States is a major health and safety threat to its citizens.
• The League supports strong federal measures to limit the accessibility and regulate the ownership of these weapons by private citizens.
• The League supports regulating firearms for consumer safety.
• The League supports licensing procedures for gun ownership by private citizens to include a waiting period for background checks, personal identity verification, gun safety education and annual license renewal. The license fee should be adequate to cover the cost of education and verification.
• The League supports a ban on “Saturday night specials,” enforcement of strict penalties for the improper possession of and crimes committed with handguns and assault weapons, and allocation of resources to better regulate and monitor gun dealers.
• The League of Women Voters of La Porte County agrees.
The process in Indiana to obtain a permit to carry a handgun is not burdensome. Filling out the online application and getting fingerprinted, combined, take about one hour. Currently, public safety officials deny handgun carry permits to people who have a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct, alcohol and drug abusers, and those who have been convicted of certain weapons offenses. Repealing the permit requirement would strip public safety officials of this authority, and allow these dangerous people to legally carry loaded handguns in public.
The repeal of this law will not benefit the citizens of Indiana. The vast majority of Americans, including gunowners, support laws requiring permits to carry loaded handguns in public. In fact, 37 states already require permits for carrying handguns in public.
We encourage citizens to contact your legislators on this “permitless carry” proposal. You can find your legislators at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/.
For the full schedule of committee meetings, list of committee members, and agenda for the hearings, see: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2017/committees/judiciary_and_public_policy.
Or call or write to Sen. Bray, Chair of the Joint Judiciary and Public Policy Committee’s Summer Study Committee: 317-232-9400 Email: Senator.Bray@iga.in.gov.
Your very lives may depend on it.
For more information about us, contact us at email@example.com. Our mailing address is PO Box 9234, Michigan City, IN 46361-9234.
Jo Ann Engquist is Vice President of the League of Women Voters of La Porte County.