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For those who still believe all CCW permit holders are "good guys"

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  • For those who still believe all CCW permit holders are "good guys"

    While I'm all in favor of CCW permits, some seem to hold the idea that anyone with a permit is automatically a non-criminal. I've often seen it posted on gun sites that NEVER has a permit holder committed a crime with a firearm. Not once. Anyway, here's todays headliner from the Sunday Indy Star.

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...=2009910110365
    One Indiana man pressed the barrel of a loaded handgun into the chest of a woman holding her 1-year-old son.

    Another's handgun was confiscated by police three times -- twice for shooting in public. A third man was arrested for allegedly dealing crack cocaine and later was accused of beating his girlfriend.

    But it's not merely those actions that concern law enforcement officials and others on both sides of the polarizing handgun debate. It's what happened next.

    In each of these three cases, the person later applied for a permit to carry a handgun in public. And in all of these cases -- and hundreds of other questionable ones uncovered by The Indianapolis Star -- the Indiana State Police granted that request, often over the objections of the local police department and even though, in some cases, it appears the State Police had a legal obligation to deny the permit.

    Even worse, many of those people committed subsequent crimes, some with the guns they were legally permitted to carry.

    STAR WATCH PAGE: http://indystar.com/starwatch//">Read all of The Star's top investigations, on subjects such as local government, animal control, children's services and much more.

    One such person held his wife captive for four days in their home, threatening to shoot her and four children. Another man pressed a gun barrel to the head of his live-in girlfriend, threatening to kill her and leaving "a very noticeable round circle mark." A third man reached toward his gun and threatened to kill police during a domestic-dispute call.

    Over the past few months, The Star has examined the gun-permit process, focusing on about 450 permit holders with dubious backgrounds from Marion and Lake counties. Those counties were chosen because they are large ones where records are most accessible electronically.

    In broad terms, The Star found a system that breaks down in numerous ways, enabling people with troubled and often violent pasts to legally keep a loaded gun in their waistbands and on their passenger seats.

    More specifically, The Star's investigation found:

    State law says a person must be of "good character and reputation" to obtain a permit, but the State Police have not denied a request based on that legal requirement since at least the 1980s.

    State law says a person should be denied a permit if there is a "reasonable belief that the person has a propensity for violence." However, State Police often are unaware of extensive police and court records involving violent behavior.

    State and federal laws prohibit felons from carrying handguns, but State Police grant permits to those convicted of felonies that are treated as misdemeanors under alternative-sentencing plans.

    There is a disconnect between state and local police on who is responsible for thoroughly investigating applicants, which results in the State Police often failing to receive pertinent information.

    The Star sought comment from Gov. Mitch Daniels but was referred to the State Police.

    "I don't think I would characterize it as flawed," said State Police Maj. Doug Shelton, commander of the records division that oversees the permitting process. "Are there things we can improve on? Sure. Absolutely.

    "And I think you've found a few of those examples."

    The agency is looking into revoking the permits in some of the troubling cases identified by The Star, and State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell acknowledged a need for better communication with local police.

    But he, too, generally defended the process.

    In permit process,

    few are denied

    In Indiana, a permit is not necessary to have a firearm at one's home or place of business.

    But if a person wants to take a handgun out in public, he or she must apply for a "carry permit." The application is reviewed by local law enforcement, which makes a recommendation to the State Police. The state agency ultimately grants or denies permits.

    There are about 300,000 active permits in Indiana. In 2008, State Police decided on 77,429 applications, including renewals. Of those, 1,278 were denied (about 1.6 percent).

    No one has illusions that permit denials will keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Permits are intended, however, to provide some restrictions on who can carry handguns in public -- based on past behavior and other factors that could pose a danger to others -- while also allowing law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms.

    Groups as divergent as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Rifle Association favor "behavioral" restrictions on gun possession.

    "The one thing the NRA has always fought for is that every criminal who abuses a firearm, who uses a gun to commit a crime, has gun charges filed," said Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the NRA's national office. "They should not be plea bargained or dropped."

    Indiana has three basic requirements for getting a permit.

    The person must be of "good character and reputation," be a "proper person" and, generally, be a U.S. citizen.

    "Proper person" was narrowly defined in state law in 1983. It contains 10 disqualifiers, including drug and alcohol abuse -- both of which are specifically defined -- and a conviction showing "an inability to safely handle a handgun."

    But what is not defined -- and what seems to give State Police the most leeway to issue denials in the interest of safety -- is the "good character and reputation" clause, which dates to the 1930s.

    "They didn't put that in there for nonsense," State Police attorney Jerome Ezell said. "But, boy, who defines that?"

    Nobody, it turns out.

    And because it's not defined, State Police admit to instead using the definition of "proper person" to address questions about character and reputation.

    "Although the (character and reputation) standard is vague, the legislature deemed it important enough to make it a prerequisite for receiving a license," said Indiana University law Professor Ryan Scott. "The statute not only permits but compels the superintendent to evaluate character and reputation."

    Simply ignoring the requirement, Scott said, "would run afoul of the statute."

    Leslie Duvall, a former state senator who co-wrote the 1983 gun law that defined "proper person" but left "good character and reputation" undefined, said legislators intended to leave State Police with discretion in evaluating people for carry permits, and "they should be using it."

    But Shelton, the State Police commander, said, "I really had never given it thought . . . because we rely on that 'proper person' definition."

    But doing so means some people with extensive criminal histories -- who have been flagged by local police -- get gun permits. People such as Tony Thomas.

    "At some point . . .

    enough is enough"

    Tony Thomas had five misdemeanor convictions, including battery and resisting law enforcement, before receiving his permit in 2006.

    Indianapolis police recommended disapproval based on false statements on his application. But State Police allowed Thomas to resubmit the form because his criminal record was not "on its face" a disqualifier under the "proper person" provision.

    Seven months later, police said, Thomas held his wife in their house for four days, threatening to kill her and their kids. Police confiscated numerous weapons, including five loaded handguns.

    Thomas, who couldn't be reached for comment, later was convicted of domestic battery. Two years after the incident, the state revoked his permit.

    Such situations anger Indianapolis police officer Miguel Roa, who said he was on duty last year when his life was threatened by a gun permit holder with a dubious past.

    "You can have an extensive criminal history and still have (a permit)," Roa said. "At some point you should say enough is enough."

    Bill Owensby, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said most officers are staunch defenders of gun rights.

    But, he said, "if you've got three or four or five arrests such as battery, even if they're misdemeanors, even if they're just arrests and not convictions, then yes, I think they should invoke ('good character and reputation')."

    But Arulanandam, the NRA spokesman, worries about putting too much stock in a vague requirement for good character and reputation.

    "Our concern would be if that stipulation is being exploited to deny people their permits," he said. "To the best of my knowledge, I don't think that has been a problem so far."

    Just what is

    "good character"?

    But the question is valid: Without guidance, where would -- where should -- the State Police draw the line?

    For example, is a person convicted of receiving stolen property or gambling or soliciting a prostitute a person of good character and reputation?

    Scott, the IU law professor, said State Police could create an administrative definition of "good character and reputation." A court challenge likely would follow that could provide guidance. Another option: Lawmakers could clarify the meaning.

    State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said the recommendations of local police should weigh heavily.

    "They should have some authority to say, 'I don't want to forward this application on' for whatever reason," he said. "By virtue of them being closer to the community, they know this person is not of sound character, but the State Police wouldn't know because they are so far removed."

    Even the brother of one man who got a permit despite two battery convictions -- police report he twice struck women in the face -- questions the decision by State Police.

    "I'd probably say no," Lawrence Oats, 59, Indianapolis, said when asked if he thought his brother, David Oats, should have a permit. "He might get mad and try to hurt somebody."

    David Oats couldn't be reached for comment.

    Using the "good character and reputation" requirement might be one way to get at another potential problem: Sometimes a felony conviction is not really a felony conviction, allowing the offender to get a permit to carry a gun.

    William Gammon, the man accused of threatening to kill police officer Roa, had five misdemeanor convictions, including two for disorderly conduct, and in 1998 he was convicted of a felony charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. But that felony was reduced to a misdemeanor.

    In 2006, he received a carry permit.

    Last year, Gammon's girlfriend called police to report that he was drunk and banging on her door. When Roa arrived, Gammon said he had a gun in his jacket pocket -- and a "(expletive) gun permit," according to the police report. Gammon reached toward his pocket and, the report said, threatened to kill Roa and another officer.

    The police report said, "I believe this to be a safety issue towards police and the public and would strongly advise to invalidate his gun permit."

    Gammon, who denies threatening Roa, contested revocation of his permit in a hearing last month. He told The Star, "Every time you get in the littlest trouble -- 'Oh, he doesn't deserve to carry a gun.' " A decision is pending.

    Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Michael Spears said legislators should reconsider alternative misdemeanor sentencing as it relates to gun permits. Just because a felony conviction was later reduced, he said, "doesn't mean it didn't occur."

    State Sen. Johnny Nugent, R-Lawrenceburg, a gun-rights advocate, disagreed:

    "If a court reduced it to a misdemeanor, then it's a misdemeanor."

    Applicants' records often not shared

    But misdemeanor convictions can be a strong predictor of future violence. Research by Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency room physician and director of the Violence Policy Research Program at the University of California-Davis, found that "handgun purchasers with just one prior misdemeanor conviction -- and no convictions for offenses involving firearms or violence -- were nearly five times as likely as those with no prior criminal history to be charged with new offenses involving firearms or violence."

    The Star's investigation also found examples where applicants seemed to violate another provision that would disqualify them: that they not have a "propensity for violence."

    Brandon Kennedy had misdemeanor convictions for battery, criminal confinement, criminal trespass and public intoxication. Moreover, police documented two incidents in which he fired his gun in the air in public: in 2004 in a White Castle drive-through lane at 4 a.m., and a year later at the scene of another shooting.

    Local police recommended against granting the permit. But State Police granted it.

    The issue wasn't State Police reluctance to determine good character or that they thought Kennedy didn't have a propensity for violence. They granted the permit because, while local police knew of these incidents -- and The Star was able to discover them -- State Police never knew.

    There is no comprehensive, centralized law enforcement information available to provide more than just a list of charges and dispositions on an applicant. So the details in police reports that might raise character issues or show a propensity for violence are not known to State Police unless local police provide them or the State Police dig them up.

    In interviews with Indianapolis police and State Police officials, each department seemed to expect the other to initiate the exchange. And the State Police said they consider IMPD among the best agencies in the state on gun-permit issues.

    Whitesell, the State Police superintendent, said his agency asks local police agencies for reports, but IMPD Deputy Chief Bryan Roach said he had never heard that request. Roach didn't know reports could be considered as part of an application.

    "If you're asking if we pull up reports," Roach said, "no, we don't do that."

    Indeed, said State Police spokesman Lt. Jerry Berkey, local agencies rarely forward police reports to the state.

    Whitesell is aware of the disconnect. He is developing a handbook to help local police identify information State Police should use in deciding permit requests.

    In the case of Kennedy, who twice fired a gun in the air in public, State Police attorney Ezell said, "That would be one we would be very interested in."

    Jim Tomes, Evansville, director of the pro-gun rights 2nd Amendment Patriots, generally opposes any licensing requirements. But if they're going to exist, he said, people such as Kennedy should be excluded.

    "My concern is why the Indiana State Police would allow that guy to get a handgun license," Tomes said.

    Kennedy, who disputed the White Castle incident but admitted to firing his gun at the scene of the shooting, says he is responsible enough to carry a gun. Asked why, he pointed out that even the State Police seem to have confidence in him.

    "The (IMPD) already told me, 'No, you shouldn't be able to get it,' " he said. "But the State Police say 'yes.' State has the final say-so."

    Additional Facts
    Star Watch investigation
    The Star examined more than 900,000 records for this project but focused primarily on two large counties -- Marion and Lake -- where local law enforcement issue their recommendations for approval and disapproval electronically and where comprehensive criminal histories are more accessible.

    We further focused on three groups of permit holders: those who appeared to have felony convictions; those in which local law enforcement had recommended their permit be denied; and those who had their permits later revoked.

    But our research was limited. For example, local law enforcement only recently began issuing permit recommendations electronically -- and only in select counties.

    Still, even when looking at only Marion and Lake counties -- and only for a one-year period covering parts of 2008 and 2009 -- we found 456 permit applications in which local police recommended disapproval but the Indiana State Police granted the permit.

    From there, we investigated cases using court records and public access terminals to look at police reports.

    Who's carrying?

    Following the letter of the law

    The Indiana State Police superintendent is responsible for issuing permits allowing Hoosiers to carry handguns in most places outside their homes and fixed places of work.

    Indiana offers four-year and lifetime permits. It is the only state in the U.S. to offer a lifetime permit.

    As of Aug. 20, there were 321,195 Hoosiers -- or about one in 14 residents 18 years or older -- with a carry permit.

    Under Indiana law, the State Police superintendent must issue a permit to an applicant unless the agency can prove the person does not qualify under specific terms. Among factors that could prohibit a person from obtaining a permit are:

    A conviction for resisting law enforcement within five years of application.

    A conviction for a felony.

    A conviction for a crime of domestic violence, unless a court has restored the person's right to possess a firearm.

    A conviction for any crime involving an inability to safely handle a handgun.

    Evidence that would cause a reasonable belief that a person has a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct.

    To obtain a permit, a person must apply to the local police department or, if they do not live in an area covered by a municipal police agency, the county sheriff. Applications also can be filed online.

    The local department must verify the applicant's personal information, whether the applicant previously has held an Indiana license to carry a handgun and whether that license has ever been suspended or revoked. The department also must conduct an investigation into the applicant's official criminal history, if there is any, and forward that information with a recommendation for approval or disapproval.

    State law says "the superintendent may make whatever further investigation the superintendent deems necessary" and shall issue a permit if it appears the applicant has a proper reason for carrying a handgun, is of "good character and reputation," is a proper person to be licensed and is a citizen of the United States or a noncitizen allowed to carry a firearm under federal law.
    I miss you, Dave.
    http://www.odmp.org/officer/20669-of...david-s.-moore

  • #2
    I am surprised to read that 7% of the adult residents of Indiana have permits. Figures I have seen from other states were lower, but they also are out of date.

    I don't think anyone has been able to come up with a good solution that is intermediate between "shall issue" and highly discretionary issuance, but I do think that misdemeanors involving violence or a threat of violence should be taken into account, as should juvenile records and drug use.
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

    Comment


    • #3
      Good Lord that article is long. I don't have the time to read it but suffice it to say, I don't know anyone who thinks that CCW holders are perfect anymore then we are.

      Comment


      • #4
        It's too long for me to read. I'm also the skeptical sort and don't automatically trust op ed pieces nor do I agree with the premise of the argument. It could be that Indiana needs to take a closer look at their permitting but why assume that all the CCW states have similar problems (if it's true)?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by marcusindc View Post
          Good Lord that article is long. I don't have the time to read it but suffice it to say, I don't know anyone who thinks that CCW holders are perfect anymore then we are.
          X-2.!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Maybe they need stricter regulations in Indiana regarding CCW permits.
            "Abandon your animosities and make your sons Americans." - Robert E. Lee, 1865

            Comment


            • #7
              The anti-2A folks are the only ones who say anyone claims that CCW holders are saints. Totally ridiculous argument, of course. What is true is that CCW holders across the country have an admirable record of good behavior with their firearms and are much less likely to use them improperly than the "average" citizen. They cherry-pick a few stories about bad-apples and try to smear the whole crowd. Pity it's nothing but irrational rhetoric.

              Comment


              • #8
                By the way, I agree with Marcus, this is a long article. I read 1/4 of it and skipped the rest.
                "Abandon your animosities and make your sons Americans." - Robert E. Lee, 1865

                Comment


                • #9
                  Same here. It looks like it's trying to take a bad setup of issuing permits and blame it on the rest of the lawful CCW carriers.
                  John Q. Citizen

                  They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That's a dumb argument. That's like saying, look heres proof that all cops are corrupt and not "good guys" because I found an article about one.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I read the whole article and understood it to be saying that the controls on CCW permits in Indiana are inadequate. In particular, I see the following problems (if the article is accurate):
                      • Misconduct involving a firearm is not a basis for denial;
                      • A misdemanor conviction for assault is not a basis for denial unless it is a crime involving an inability to safely handle a handgun;
                      • A conviction for burglary or robbery that is prosecuted is not a basis for denial;
                      • A conviction for drug use or possession is not a basis for denial;
                      • A conviction for public drunkenness is not a basis for denial.


                      Perhaps most importantly, there does not appear to be any reporting/monitoring of convictions to ensure that permit holders continue to meet the requirements. In view of the fact that permits are valid for four years are even life, this is a very serious flaw (if this is the way things actually work).
                      Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        either way. when I run a subject over the radio, and they come back as "known to have a weapon or CCW permit" I treat them all the same.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DAL View Post
                          I read the whole article and understood it to be saying that the controls on CCW permits in Indiana are inadequate.
                          You'd really hate living in Vermont. They have never required any sort of permit to ccw.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by velobard View Post
                            You'd really hate living in Vermont. They have never required any sort of permit to ccw.
                            My life does not turn on firearms laws. I probably would dislike living in Vermont because of the weather, not its gun laws.

                            I read that some cities in Vermont have local laws prohibiting or regulating the carrying of handguns. I think that is unworkable.

                            The population and crime problems of the states vary. Vermont is pretty much a rural state. There is no place like Gary, Indiana in Vermont. If there were, Vermont would probably have different laws about carrying weapons.
                            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              cliff notes please?

                              Comment

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