TODAY’S NEWS-SENTINEL.COM EDITORIAL: Should we need a ‘government permission slip’ for a constitutional right?

An Indiana legislative study committee Monday avoided directly endorsing a proposal by Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, that would eliminate Indiana’s law requiring a license to carry a handgun in public. The Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy instead recommended state lawmakers “should remove hurdles” that limit the ability of Hoosiers to exercise their constitutional right to own and carry firearms.

Lucas, we pointed out here recently, also drafted a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by state police, a ploy, he admitted, that was designed to make a point: “If you’re OK licensing my Second Amendment right, what’s wrong with licensing your First Amendment right?”

The driving force at the statehouse for what he calls “constitutional carry,” Lucas said Monday he will propose in January that Indiana only provide reciprocal licenses to carry in states that require licensing, and Hoosiers would not need a license to possess a handgun in public places.

Sen. Rodric Bray, who chaired the committee, says embracing “constitutional carry” would definitely remove a hurdle. But the Martinsville Republican said he thinks lawmakers may prefer something as simple as lowering the cost of a handgun license, or streamlining the fingerprinting process.

Lucas, though, says, “The way I read (the committee’s resolution), it recommends doing away with the hurdle: having to get a license.”

Lucas has a point. If something is a constitutional right, why should we need a government permission slip? However, the permitting process is one way to keep track of who is buying guns to keep them out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Lucas’ proposed law would not change who can and who cannot get guns, but it would remove the way to know who they are.

We applaud the legislative panel’s even-handed approach in trying to balance Second Amendment rights with the legitimate concerns brought up by those who want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.