First of all, I would like to thank the members of the General Assembly and their staff. They have a tough job, and we should all be grateful to have people in our community ready to serve.
Being a public servant is not easy and the demands can sometimes be overwhelming, and we should appreciate them for what they do. When we talk about public servants and the demands placed on them, no group has higher expectations than our law enforcement professionals.
We ask them to go places no one else would dare to go. We ask them to intervene in what may be someone else’s worst day. We ask them to be mental health professionals, to stop and solve crimes, to be tactically skilled, to provide first aid, to communicate with the skills of a trained negotiator, to understand the law better than a lawyer – and to do it perfectly 100% of the time. No other profession requires so many skills while facing so much scrutiny.
Law enforcement officials deserve the support of the community, and they clearly need it more than ever. The heavy responsibilities we place on our agents mean they need all the tools available to meet ever-increasing public expectations.
Last week, the General Assembly passed constitutional carry, which would eliminate the licensing requirement for carrying a handgun. With 23 years in law enforcement, I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by illegally owned guns. Families have been destroyed and neighborhoods stained with trauma after murder.
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This dangerous public policy will embolden those who are legally prohibited from owning a firearm to carry them freely on our streets without common sense checks by law enforcement and will continue to fuel the unacceptable level of violent crime that we know in Indianapolis.
According to the Marion County District Attorney’s Office, 1,300 cases are currently being prosecuted in our courts involving individuals with unlicensed handguns. Each of the incidents represents a firearm taken from our streets and tested using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN); a system that can provide law enforcement with forensic information linking firearm to shooting incidents, not just here in Indianapolis but across the country. This invaluable tool has resolved numerous gunshots, non-fatal shootings and homicide incidents.
Removing illegally held firearms from our streets and disrupting the firing cycle is the primary goal of the Indiana Crime Guns Task Force (ICGTF), created with bipartisan support in the 2021 session. Allowing the constitutional deferral will hamper their efforts to make central Indiana safer just as they begin.
In the first year, the ICGTF removed hundreds of criminal weapons from the hands of people ready to pull the trigger on a neighbor. This didn’t just happen in Marion County, but all of central Indiana.
We funded this task force with $10 million of taxpayer dollars to focus on trigger shooters and investigations focused on those who use guns to commit crimes. We owe it to our cops, our children and community members to support their efforts to save lives.
As we saw in February, being a cop is dangerous. A young Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer was shot in the neck and forever changed by an illegally owned gun.
Constitutional portage will make the already perilous work of our officers even more dangerous. As public servants, we must commit to all those we serve, not to special interests or the vocal minority. We owe it to our cops and more importantly our neighbors to be reasonable in exercising the 2nd Amendment.
Therefore, I urge Governor Holcomb to veto legislation passed last week removing the requirement for a license to carry a handgun.
Christopher Bailey is the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Deputy Chief of Police.