We’ve seen this episode before…
Fallen Indiana State Rep. Jim Lucas says he is planning on offering a version of Constitutional Carry in the Indiana House of Representatives next year.
But actions speak louder than words, and Rep. Lucas’s record is spotty at best on Constitutional Carry.
From 2015 to 2018, Rep. Lucas did indeed author Constitutional Carry bills.
But over the years, Lucas began to water down his own bills, seeking compromise with his weak-kneed colleagues and anti-gun law enforcement bureaucrats.
Then, in 2017, gun owners had their best chance ever for a vote on Constitutional Carry on the House floor. The problem was, Rep. Lucas backed away from offering the Constitutional Carry motion on the floor.
Fortunately, State Rep. Curt Nisly stepped up and offered the motion for Constitutional Carry, so all gun owners needed was a legislator to second Rep. Nisly’s motion.
In this key moment, when he was needed most by gun owners, Rep. Jim Lucas cowered to House Leadership, leaving Nisly to stand alone in the fight for Constitutional Carry.
Instead of backing Rep. Nisly’s motion for Constitutional Carry, Jim Lucas sat on his hands in 2017 and let Constitutional Carry die on the House floor, without a vote.
This was strange behavior, given how Lucas considers himself a gun rights champion in the Indiana House.
In 2018, Jim Lucas took another action against Constitutional Carry.
Lucas was on the House Public Policy Committee, and the committee was considering a Constitutional Carry bill.
So imagine the surprise of gun owners when Lucas, in committee, voted to strip the Constitutional Carry language out of the House bill.
By 2019, Rep. Lucas no longer even bothered to author a House bill on Constitutional Carry.
So in 2020, Rep. Curt Nisly offered a true Constitutional Carry bill that was simple and straightforward, with no anti-gun provisions included as an attempt to appease special interests.
Nisly’s House Bill 1211 simply would have restored the right of law-abiding citizens in Indiana to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, without first having to obtain a permit or pay a fee.
There are currently 15 states with a version of Constitutional Carry on the books, including Indiana’s southern neighbor Kentucky.
To the shock of gun owners, at the introduction of HB 1211, Lucas declared Rep. Nisly’s principled Constitutional Carry bill “too much to ask for,” despite the fact that supposedly “pro-gun” Republicans maintain supermajorities in the General Assembly and control the Governor’s mansion.
After all of this, Lucas is now saying he wants to author a Constitutional Carry bill in the Indiana House.
Perhaps it is jealousy for losing his status as the “gun guy” in the House after Rep. Nisly picked up Constitutional Carry when Lucas abandoned it.
Regardless of the reason, he simply cannot be trusted to sponsor this legislation after years of compromise and betrayal.
Gun owners have observed Lucas backing down time and again over the past five years in the fight for Constitutional Carry in Indiana.
And this year, Rep. Lucas is openly reporting on social media that he is going to add gun control to his bill.
You heard me right.
Jim Lucas intends to add gun control measures to his bill in order to curry favor with anti-gun special interests and to placate the weaker members of the Republican caucus (even though Republicans have supermajorities).
Lucas is looking to heighten penalties for gun related crimes, which has the potential of tripping up law-abiding Hoosiers with harsher penalties for accidentally violating Indiana’s onerous gun regulations.
While this may sound good in concept, in the vein of punishing those who do wrong with firearms, the problem is that it is not that simple.
There are so many laws on the books that law-abiding gun owners can accidentally run afoul of on a daily basis.
As gun owners, we should do our best to know the laws, but with how convoluted the laws are, it is simply too easy for a well-meaning gun owner to violate one of the countless restrictions on the books. So simply throwing the book at anyone who runs afoul of Indiana gun control laws is not sound policy, nor is it even good politics.
The opponents of Constitutional Carry are not going to come out and support the bill with these added penalties.
What is more likely is that anti-gun bureaucrats will come back and demand even more compromise, to the point that the actual Constitutional Carry policy in the bill is nonexistent.
That is why Lucas’s latest charade should be soundly rejected by his fellow legislators and gun owners.
By contrast, Rep. Curt Nisly’s Constitutional Carry bill from the 2020 session, House Bill 1211, contains the principled language which should be promptly passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Holcomb in 2021.
Rep. Lucas seems to enjoy grabbing headlines with his antics — both on the Second Amendment and on other issues.
But Lucas has not been the steady fighter gun owners need to advance their interests in Indianapolis.
So gun owners would be wise to treat Rep. Lucas like a carnival barker, and simply look the other way when he makes a spectacle of himself.
While it is still months away, the 2021 legislative session could be our best opportunity yet to make Constitutional Carry a reality in Indiana.
Thank you for your continued support and activism!