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General Assembly

Guns-at-school item added, pulled from House bill

– House Republicans tried to pull a fast one Tuesday by amending a bill on government reduction with language allowing teachers, students and parents to bring guns onto school grounds.

But the provision was removed by the end of the day by leadership.

House Bill 1048 was heard in the House Public Policy Committee several weeks ago but was held pending a vote. It was scheduled again, but the chair held it again because of the Purdue University shooting.

On Tuesday morning, the Public Policy Committee met on other bills, but the gun bill was not scheduled. That was the last day to move a bill to the full House.

Instead, an amendment with the gun provision was slipped into House Bill 1005 at a meeting of the Select Committee on Government Reduction.

No notice was given that the gun provision was being shifted, and the amendment was not available to the public. It was added, and the bill passed out of committee 7-3, with Democrats voting against it.

The provision means that teachers, visitors and students with a valid license to carry a handgun could keep firearms in their locked vehicles, out of sight, in school parking lots.

Guns cannot be carried into the school building or on a school bus.

Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, chaired the committee. He said the chairman of the Public Policy Committee, Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, had second thoughts about the gun bill and decided not to move it forward even though it had the votes.

Wolkins asked Dermody whether he was OK with the amendment, and he said yes.

“I didn’t realize it was going to be a big deal,” Wolkins said.

He was called to House Speaker Brian Bosma’s office about the situation Tuesday morning.

A spokeswoman said Bosma is concerned with what happened and that he would address it.

As a result, there was an emergency meeting of the House Rules Committee on Tuesday afternoon where the gun provision was removed so the rest of House Bill 1005 could move forward.

“I support the language 100 percent in another context,” said Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, chairman of the Rules Committee.

nkelly@jg.net

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