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EDITORIAL

Is it too easy to get a carry permit in Indiana?

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 12:01 am

Gun owners don't have to show they know what they're doing.

Twice in the last six months, a Fort Wayne resident has used deadly force in self-defense. In one case a man struggled with two teens trying to rob him outside his apartment and ended up shooting one of them. In the other, a homeowner shot a man who was on his porch and apparently trying to get in. A recent string of burglaries – some of them by aggressive robbers who don't care if the homeowner is present or not – increases the likelihood of further such shootings.

It's worrisome enough for Police Chief Rusty York to remind Hoosiers that they need to be aware of Indiana's laws on self-defense. We have the right to use deadly force to prevent an attack or stop an unwanted entry, and we have no “duty to retreat” first. But if the other person retreats – is leaving your residence, for example – the rules change and the homeowner could end up facing charges.

The chief's timely reminder gives us all a chance to pause and consider correcting a striking deficiency in the state's gun laws.

Indiana is commendably – even zealously, some would say – faithful to the Second Amendment. It is a “must issue” state that doesn't require gun owners to jump through complicated legal hoops to get a carry permit. Business owners can't keep employees from having guns in their cars while they're in the company parking lot. Local governments can't forbid guns in parks.

But the state errs in having no requirements at all for a carry permit. Applicants don't have to show a demonstrated ability to shoot the guns and hit what they're aiming at. They don't have to show a knowledge of the state's gun laws or common-sense safety procedures. Since the state also issues lifetime permits, the likelihood is great that a large number of gun toters out there are more dangerous than they should be.

Even very gun-friendly states such as Texas aren't as lax as Indiana is. There, carry-permit applicants much spend four to six hours in the classroom, take a written exam and pass an actual shooting test by hitting the target with a handgun for at least 70 percent of 50 shots from various distances.

A carry permit isn't required for people to keep a gun in the home, so having a training requirement wouldn't technically have an effect there. But requiring training for a carry permit would increase public awareness of safety issues and result in more homeowners who have guns and the knowledge of how to handle them and when to use them.

Yes, we absolutely have the right to protect ourselves. But the state has the obligation to protect all of us.