STATEHOUSE (Jan. 25, 2011) - A proposal authored by State Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) designed to help align firearms restrictions across Indiana is on its way to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 292, which would prohibit local government bodies from enacting stricter gun laws than firearms regulations already set by the state, passed the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters today by a 10-0 vote.
"Indiana statutes are already written to address potential issues and ensure public safety," Tomes said. "If gun laws were to vary from community to community, it would become difficult for Hoosiers to know their rights and would simply lead to unnecessary confusion. My legislation would provide firearms owners, law enforcement, gun dealers and collectors with a fair and consistent code of rules and regulations throughout the state."
Tomes said the legislation was amended in committee to exempt courthouses and allow local judges to use their discretion at such venues. Additionally, the bill exempts employers who regulate employees carrying firearms at work.
As a founder and director of the 2nd Amendment Patriots, Tomes said the idea for this bill came after learning of several counties trying to impose their own firearms restrictions in recent years. The 2nd Amendment Patriots is a grassroots organization for Evansville area guns rights activists dedicated to educating the American public about the founding fathers as well as the purpose of government.
"Officials in Elkhart, Gibson, Vanderburgh and other counties have tried to adopt ordinances to prohibit firearms on county-owned or county-leased properties," Tomes said. "Such regulations are contrary to state law, putting the rights of legitimate gun-carrying citizens in jeopardy - especially since many would be unfamiliar with which properties are county-owned."
As a second means of protection, Tomes' bill would allow citizens adversely affected by local government firearms ordinances to seek legal action against the responsible political body.
"If a local government body would try to enforce stricter gun laws and charge an individual for violating them, the affected person would be entitled to recovering any consequential damages or fees," Tomes said.
According to Indiana State Police officials, an estimated 250,000 Hoosiers currently hold firearms licenses in the state.
A full copy of the Senate Bill 292 can be found athttp://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2011&session=1&request=getBill&doctype=SB&docno=0292.
Sen. Tomes represents Senate District 49, which includes portions of Gibson, Posey and Vanderburgh counties.