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Indiana nears law allowing more armed statewide officials at state Capitol

INDIANAPOLIS — Four statewide elected officials in Indiana, including the attorney general and secretary of state, can carry handguns in the Capitol under a bill that lawmakers revived and sent to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday .

Members of the General Assembly and their staff already have the right to carry a gun in the Capitol and on the complex grounds. The new measure would also repeal a provision that requires lawmakers and their staff to have a valid Indiana carry permit.

The Senate’s original proposal on the issue did not advance beyond a second floor vote last month. But lawmakers brought back the idea by adding the wording to another bill in the final days of the session.

However, the latest incarnation does not extend the right to elected officials’ staff members, as originally proposed. Holcomb’s office declined to comment on whether he supports the measure.

The final compromise would allow the attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and comptroller to carry a handgun if not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law. The language was added to House Bill 1084, which would prohibit a government agency from maintaining a list or registry of privately owned or owned firearms.

The measure was finally approved in the Senate by a vote of 39 to 9, with the Democratic group in opposition.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor said he voted against the change because it would also revoke the permit requirement for members of the General Assembly and their staff to be on Capitol grounds.

“We used to at least have an agreement,” he said of regulations on who can travel inside the Capitol.

According to a 2021 review by The Associated Press, guns in some form are allowed in U.S. statehouses in 21 states. Indiana in 2022 repealed a state law that required a permit to carry a gun in public.

Indiana State Treasurer Daniel Elliott, who testified in favor of the measure, said he was hopeful the conversation can continue next year to add officer staffing statewide.

“The 2nd Amendment Rights of Hoosiers should not end at the steps of the Statehouse,” he said in a written statement.

Metal detectors have been placed at public entrances on the Capitol grounds. State employees with a valid access badge do not have to walk through detectors to enter the buildings.