Thoughts about licensing a constitutional right

By Jim Lucas

The first 10 Amendments are the Bill of Rights. They use absolute language as they define and protect our individual rights, and their purpose is outlined concisely in the Preamble. The Indiana Constitution also uses absolute language in protecting our gun rights; “Article 1 Section 32 — The people shall have a right to bear arms for defense of themselves and the State.”

To exercise a Constitutional right and lawfully carry a handgun in the state of Indiana, a license is required. Indiana is a “shall issue” state with no training requirement, which means that if you are not a prohibited person, you will get your handgun carry license. To get a license, a person must fill out lengthy forms online, take time off work to get fingerprinted and pay a fee of up to $140 to get a card to prove their innocence.

I believe it wrong to require a license to exercise a Constitutional right and have introduced gun rights legislation known as Constitutional Carry that eliminates this cumbersome and expensive burden on innocent people. The only people affected by this will be those innocent people that would have received their license.

Contrary to constant incorrect reporting in the media, this law will not let prohibited people get or carry a gun, and prohibited people doing these things will still be breaking the law. It also does not place police lives in danger, as over 10 hours of testimony did not produce any evidence showing that it presented an increased risk to officer safety from the 13 other states that have Constitutional Carry. Ironically, a recent PoliceOne poll of 15,000 street officers revealed that over 90% supported good people carrying a gun.

Given the media’s continual irresponsibility in reporting what my bill does and does not do, while demanding the current gun rights licensing system remain in place, I conducted an experiment. I presented a draft that simply took the exact language we currently use to license our Second Amendment rights and applied it to professional journalists First Amendment rights. I wanted to highlight the hypocrisy and double standard of the media demanding the licensing of one right while heatedly denying that other rights could be held to the same requirements.

As expected with the licensing of a Constitutional right, the draft is reprehensible, vile and repugnant.

And, it is beautiful. The outcry has been epic and my point proven beyond my wildest expectations.

Suddenly, the licensing of a Constitutional right was deemed unconstitutional by “legal experts.” Absurdly, how can any reasonable person logically argue that some rights can be constitutional to license and others cannot?

The primary lesson of my drafts is to highlight the danger and foolishness of accepting restrictions on one right while thinking the others are safe. Assuming this and trusting government jeopardizes all rights, which is the main reason for the Bill of Rights to begin with.

Legislators swear an oath to support both Constitutions and to faithfully and impartially discharge their duties. This means supporting all parts of the Constitutions, not just the parts they favor. Licensing a Constitutionally protected right is dangerous and wrong and I will continue to fight against it.

Jim Lucas is a member of the Indiana House of Representatives and serves residents of District 69, which includes parts of Bartholomew, Jennings, Jackson and Jefferson counties. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.