Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

September 20, 2012

Indiana voters may see more guns at polling places

INDIANAPOLIS —

In Indiana it is against the law to carry campaign literature into a 
polling place, but packing a pistol is OK.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson says the law is clear: Unless the polling place falls under the few exemptions in the law, legal gun owners have the right to openly bear their arms while they vote.

But the issue has not quite been put to rest. Last month, a Zionsville, Ind., attorney who’s built a law practice as the unofficial enforcer of the 2011 law, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a northern Indiana man last May after he refused to take off his holstered handgun.

The law in question, known as Indiana’s firearms pre-emption law, prevents local political subdivisions from having their own firearms ordinances. When it went into effect in July 2011, it also did away with local laws that prevented legal gun owners from carrying their weapons into public places like libraries, parks, city halls and fire stations.

The law exempts courthouses and schools, where firearms may still be banned.

State Sen. Jim Tomes, a Republican who authored the law, said the pre-emption law protects the rights of legal gun owners, but he doesn’t encourage licensed gun owners to openly show or display their legal firearms in public places.

“The intent of the 2011 firearm pre-emption law was to provide a uniform policy for legal firearms carriers statewide, allowing them to legally carry their firearms in places they couldn’t before,” he said.

Tomes said his reasoning for not advising open displays is two-fold. First, he said, is that Indiana’s “concealed carry” law already allows legally licensed owners to have their firearms on hand in public places in case of an emergency.

“Openly carrying a firearm in public venues works against the idea of having protection in the case of an emergency by most likely making any legal carrier a target of those who are illegally carrying firearms,” Tomes said.

The second reason echoes his concern about how the public perceives the guns. 
Because “people are not accustomed to seeing an openly carried firearm in public places, it’s common courtesy to keep them concealed as to not excite unnecessary fear,” Tomes said.

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Details for this story were provided by the CNHI News Service bureau in Indianapolis.

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