INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Hundreds of legislative employees can now carry handguns at the Indiana
Statehouse and adjacent state office buildings, but with some limitations.
Lawmakers passed a
measure this year, allowing those who work for the House, Senate,
Legislative Services Agency and Lobby Registration Commission to bring guns
to work with a valid state permit. The measure affects more than 470
constitutional right. I think everyone’s right to protection should be
recognized in the Statehouse,” said Republican Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour,
one of the new law’s sponsors. “Legislators aren’t any different than the
people. Our lives are no more important.”
A section of both
the House and Senate policies say employees are prohibited from bringing
handguns into any meeting related to personnel matters, including
evaluations, disciplinary action and human resource discussions. Employees
are expected to leave any guns at home in such situations. They can also be
disciplined for “reckless behavior with a handgun, including accidental
discharge or open carry of a handgun.”
previously allowed judges, police officers and members of the Legislature to
carry weapons in the Statehouse, but state regulations banned anyone else
from having deadly weapons within the state government complex buildings.
At least 20 other
states allow firearms on Statehouse grounds in some fashion, according to
the Crime Prevention Research Center.
But most publicly
visible and large companies with a diverse set of employees don’t permit
guns in the workplace, said Christopher Schrader, government affairs
director for Indiana State Council of Society of Human Resource Management.
The possibility of the presence of firearms during tense personnel
situations would worry human resources professionals, he said.
Majority Leader Matt Lehman of Berne said legislative staffers often work
late and security officers aren’t always around when it’s dark. But he
supported the limitations included in staff policies.
“If there’s any
time you are going to be in a situation where it could be confrontational,
we want to eliminate anything where someone might respond irrationally,”
Lehman told The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette.
Opponents of the
Statehouse handgun policy change worry about allowing guns in any workplace,
noting that uncomfortable conversations sometimes occur in workplace
settings and tensions can run high.
“I manage people at
my real job and I know that can be intimidating if you’re a manager and you
have an employee that you might need to discipline,” Democratic Rep. Phil
GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne told The Indianapolis Star. “Sometimes with the
added pressure here ... tempers can fly at night.”