Morris: Hoosiers Can Outgun Texans
by Leo Morris
My brother and sister-in-law buy Peeps by the carload.
They don’t eat the goofy marshmallow critters or give them out as party favors or use them as Halloween decorations. Periodically, they haul a bunch of them down to the shooting range they’ve built on their property, line them up against the wall and blast them to smithereens. Out comes the .38 Special and – Bam! – another Peep is gone. Look, here’s the Sig 40 caliber, and – Bam! Bam! Bam! – three more bite the dust. Even the Walther PPK gets a shot. “No, Mr. Peep, I expect you to die.” They have long guns, too, but those never come out, because it wouldn’t give the Peeps a sporting chance.
I guess we’d have to call them gun nuts. They do live in Texas, after all.
But truth be told, if my brother had really wanted an easy path to gun heaven, he could have just stayed in Indiana.
I saw a rerun of a cop show recently – I think it was “Criminal Minds” – in which a government man chided someone for heavily arming his 200-member group of followers. “You people have stockpiled almost 400 weapons,” he said, or something to that effect. “Are you people expecting a war?”
Wow, I thought – 400 weapons! That’s like two each! That’s not even Texas armed, let alone Indiana packin’.
No, I don’t have that backwards.
Texas has the reputation as the haven for shoot-em-up cowboys, but Indiana is arguably the more gun-friendly state. In Texas, you have to take classes on gun handling and safety to get a carry permit. In Indiana, they just give it to you.
In Texas, you have to renew your permit occasionally. In Indiana, you can a lifetime permit.
And look at the numbers. Gun ownership can only be estimated, and there are different ways to do it. On every list I could find, Indiana and Texas were very close. On some, Texas edged Indiana out, but I found some that went the other way. According to one survey, Indiana has 14.1 guns per 1,000 residents, and Texas has 12.8. According to another, 39.1 percent of Indiana households and 35.9 percent of Texas ones have guns.
Guns & Ammo in 2015 ranked Texas and Indiana 15 and 16 on its list of most gun-friendly states, and the General Assembly next session could take action to catapult the Hoosier state ahead a spot or two, perhaps even into the top 10.
A summer study committee has been looking into the possibility of letting Hoosiers carry without a permit, making Indiana one of the few so-called “constitutional carry” states.
The idea is that if bearing arms is an individual constitutional right, why should we need a government permission slip to exercise it? I have to admit the jury is still out on the constitutional question, but the Supreme Court has been leaning that way lately, and if it finally goes all the way, I find the permit-less argument persuasive. Are we required to get government approval for any of our other constitutional rights, such as free speech or the exercise of religion?
The gun-control crowd will go nuts, of course. They will tell emotional, gut-wrenching stories about gun violence and the proliferation of guns. What they won’t be able to do is give a single example of what would change if constitutional carry passed. The same people who could always own guns will still be able to own guns. The same people forbidden to own guns will still be forbidden to own guns.
Well, the Hoosier state might become a more dangerous place for Peeps. If I get bragging rights over my brother, if Texas’ flamboyance bows to Indiana’s steadfastness and we finally become recognized as the better place for gun owners, I can’t let him have all the fun.
Think I’ll put in my order right now.
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is a veteran of 40 years in Indiana journalism. As opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Morris was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.