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Indiana Lawmakers Debate Gun Applications
Updated January 13, 2016 5:09 PM | Filed under: Politics
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - While the gun debate rages across the country, a debate over gun applications is stirring in the Indiana Senate.

The application used by Indiana State Police for a license to carry currently asks if applicants have ever been convicted of a DUI. A bill heard in the Judiciary Committee Wednesday would remove those references to DUIs.

The bill's sponsor, State Sen. James Tomes, R-Wadesville, says even if the applicant says they have been convicted of a DUI, that is not grounds to deny the application. The only way it would matter is if the DUI was a felony conviction, because felony convictions of any kind are automatic grounds for denial.

Sen. Tomes said that means there is only need to ask about felony convictions in general, and there is no point in bringing up DUIs specifically.

Critics from groups supporting domestic violence victims spoke against the bill Wednesday. They claimed removing the DUI language would make it easier for perpetrators of domestic violence to get guns, citing studies that show 80 percent of domestic violence incidents also involve alcohol abuse. This was especially of concern to them because the bill would also remove all references to "alcohol abusers" as they are legally defined in Indiana (two or more alcohol-related convictions, including at least one within three years of applying for their license).

"We have no problem with legal individuals carrying concealed handguns," Stephanie Mannon Grabow, leader of the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action, told WTHR after the meeting. "What we do have a problem with is putting a loaded concealed handgun into the hands of someone who has already shown poor judgment by being an alcohol abuser."

Senators on the committee who support the bill disagreed with their interpretation, but committee chair State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, had to end the meeting before a vote could be taken. They will resume discussion on the bill at the committee's next meeting next Wednesday, January 20. That meeting starts at 9 a.m.

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