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STATE HOUSE–Gov. Eric Holcomb signed three bills into law Monday, including a piece of legislation that will allow Hoosiers to carry a handgun without a permit. He vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender girls from participating in school sports.

Constitutional carry

“The Second Amendment has been debated for years, yet time and again our U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed this important constitutional right that I fully support. Twenty-three other states have laws comparable to HEA 1296,” said Holcomb in a prepared statement.

“HEA 1296, which I’ve signed today, entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our State. It’s important to note that if a person is prohibited, under federal or state laws, from possessing a firearm before this law goes into effect, that person will still be prohibited. And if a prohibited person has a firearm, he or she can be prosecuted,” he said.

Firearm permits will remain available, without fee, to anyone who wants or needs one, such as Hoosiers desiring to carry a firearm to, through or in another state that has reciprocity with Indiana, said the governor.

An opponent to the new law, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, said he will continue Hoosiers to get a permit.

“As Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, I have pledged my continued commitment to Governor Holcomb to work towards solutions enacting HEA 1296. I, like Governor Holcomb, feel enormous responsibility for front-line law enforcement officers. I will work with law enforcement leaders across our state to make necessary changes to firearms enforcement as well as finding the best way to identify individuals who are not allowed to carry a firearm as defined by Indiana statute,” he said. “We will continue to encourage citizens to apply for, and maintain, a firearms permit. A permit will assist law enforcement officers and will also allow a permit holder reciprocity with other states.”

The state Democratic Party opposed the bill.

“Rising crime rates will now fall directly on the Indiana Republican Party’s shoulders, because buying firearms will be like buying candy at a gas station. It’s important to stress that Democrats are doing everything possible to equip our first responders with investments needed to combat crime – thanks to the American Rescue Plan – but it appears the Indiana GOP’s culture wars will now create a reality where Hoosier families will lose loved ones due to a clearly preventable problem,” said Mike Schmuhl, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman.

The law goes into effect July 1.

Transgender ban bill

The bill that would have banned transgender girls from participating in school sports was vetoed because Holcomb said he could find no evidence that anyone was being treated unfairly, as Republicans had claimed. The bill passed the House 66-30, and passed the Senate 32-18.

“The moment the Indiana High School Athletic Association admitted there was no unfair advantage occurring in women’s sports, it became clear House Bill 1041 was more about fulfilling a made up culture war than actually creating a better future for Hoosier children,” said Schmuhl, in a prepared statement by the Indiana Democratic Party.

“Indiana Republicans even admitted their goal was more about abiding by national politics than solving today’s problems facing kids – and it’s why they partnered with a national hate group to pass House Bill 1041.”

Schmuhl praised Holcomb for his veto, saying he believed the bill would have put lives in danger.

Holcomb said in a veto message to House Speaker Todd Huston, that the Indiana High School Athletics Assoc. (IHSAA) had not indicated there was unfairness and that the governor believed the process to ensure fairness by the IHSAA, now a decade old, works.