Fighting for Your Lifetime

Indiana Senate Committee Hearing 2/20/2013 Re: Senate Bill No.555

On February 20, 2013 at the behest of Senator Tomes of Indiana, I offered my testimony in the Senate hearing of Bill No.555.I was simply asked to give my professional and personal opinion on the proposed bill and what I thought may be the outcome of said bill passing into law.

Essentially this bill offers Indiana residents {and non-residents alike} an alternative license to the already existing firearm license Indiana currently issues. With this new firearms reciprocity license one would have to comply with the minimum training curriculum put forth and renew their license every 4 years. The idea is to gain reciprocity with more states by having a two-tier licensing system. Even though Senator Hirschman’s’ proposal has good intentions, it will in fact jeopardize the historic and groundbreaking existence of Indiana’s’ lifetime permit and further infringe on the Americans’ 2nd Amendments’ rights. Why would we logically have two different licenses issued from the same State? Immediately upon reading Bill No. 555 I formulated my opinion: I cannot see its necessity.

As politics goes, even though I had drafted my thoughts into the following argument, a Q&A debate session took place instead; between me, and Chairman Steele and the panel cutting me short from completing my testimony. I would like to share it with you here.

Good morning Senators, Ladies and Gentleman.

Firstly, allow me to thank you for the opportunity to address the committee on a subject that is both professionally and personally important to me.

My name is Jonathan Wallace II: I am a Professional Firearms Instructor, a Certified Protection Specialist, Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification Instructor, North Carolina Department of Justice State Instructor, NRA Certified Instructor and Range Safety Officer, an Indiana Security Company owner and Private Investigator, husband and father of four.
I believe I represent the majority of Indiana gun owners and Instructors alike in my opposition to the passing of Senate Bill No.555.

In reading this bill, it is clear that it is not intended to be gun ban legislation; however my concerns lie in the CONTROL changes it proposes to the functional Indiana legislation already in place, as well as the underlying elements of infringement it conveys.

It appears that this bill comes to us as a result of the recent wave of change in firearms law that is plaguing the nations’ law makers. Is this in fact a necessary change, or is it simply an act of appeasement to those States who have already passed such legislation and are so evidently less friendly to the 2nd Amendment? Do we so desperately want our permit recognized by these particular states that we are willing to admit to the pundits, critics and naysayers that we have been wrong all along? I would like the recognition, but not at that cost. Indiana has never been on the wrong side of this debate. We are a constitutional state, following all of its’ outlines.

If passed, this bill would saddle Indiana citizens with unnecessary bureaucratic complications. The proposed bill introduces many more grey areas to the law that should essentially remain black and white. Is Indiana going to follow suite with these other states and convolute what should be simple?

Today, there are over 300 thousand Indiana Lifetime license holders. Each one of these individuals is a constituent, and by enacting such a bill these constituents would be immediately impacted. Does Bill No.555 put the Indiana Lifetime License in jeopardy? If legislation were to change, would these 300 thousand plus licenses be revoked OR over time become obsolete because of a two tier licensing system? The most obvious risk of offering an alternative of this sort would be the threat to the recognition of Indiana’s’ Lifetime License. I believe this could cause a breakdown of its validity because States may choose to ONLY recognize the Indiana Firearms Reciprocity license. If this breakdown happens, we will inevitably be back here in a few years debating the mere existence of the Indiana Lifetime License. This is what I am here today to oppose, before the event even occurs. If this bill causes the demise of the Indiana Lifetime License, a monumental achievement will be lost.

As far as the required training is concerned, it stands to reason that, I, as a professional Instructor, encourage Safety and Firearms competency training. I do. In fact I believe it is, has been and must remain the responsibility of the individual to seek out and undertake the proper training. It should NOT however, be mandated by the government. Enforcing training before an American can “bear an arm” is clearly an infraction on the 2nd Amendment. There should not be two sides to this; it is our right and was never written out with conditions of training. It is THIS infringement that troubles me; both with this Bill and the many States who require such training prior to issuance of a permit.

Undoubtedly, the enacting of this bill would only multiply my revenue as an Instructor and benefit my business greatly. Thousands of Indiana residents would now have to comply with several new laws to exercise their constitutional right. But my loyalty is NOT to revenue, money or business; my loyalty is to the Constitution, OUR loyalty is to the Constitution and that is to one end alone; to uphold and obey.

The bill proposes that all NRA Certified Instructors will automatically, without Indiana State-specific training, be able to conduct classes for the issuance of this new firearm reciprocity license. This means that a California Instructor with no Knowledge of Specific Indiana firearms laws etc. can immediately come here and teach Hoosiers to acquire this permit. I believe, if this is to work, a curriculum to create Certified Indiana Firearm Instructors must be outlined and implemented. There must be a standard to which all State Instructors are governed by.

I am confident that the majority of the Instructors who have years of experience under their belt would agree with me in questioning the prospect of being thrown into the same proverbial boat as the hundreds of new instructors who will surface with the passing of such a bill. The market will be inundated with inexperienced instructors who may or may not teach the correct ethical doctrine, which appears to be happening in epidemic proportions throughout the country. I am personally aware of numerous reports of price scalping on certificates, instructors signing and or stamping documents while not performing the necessary training for family, friends and or those willing to pay more. This goes on daily at an alarming rate. If the State of Indiana does choose to make this bill law, how will such a curriculum be enforced? How will the droves of new instructors be monitored and held accountable? What strategies will be implemented to follow through on such a large undertaking? I see this bill as a work in progress. If this bill has a chance of being passed, these questions must be answered and addressed.

I do not see the urgency in changing the status quo, bearing in mind the vast recognition already attached to the Indiana Lifetime License. There are 29 States where our License is already recognized. In my professional opinion Indiana residents would only gain 6 more states, if that, with the proposed Firearms Reciprocity license. Surely, if this is the only reason for legislation why then can’t they apply for a non-resident Utah or Florida permit for example, both of which have multi state reciprocity and are available to all Indiana residents over 21 with a good record. These two permits are issued upon the completion of a minimum training curriculum already tried and tested, and offered by many companies in Indiana. My company is one of the most recognized

In the Instruction of the Utah Training Curriculum. I can personally attest to thousands of Hoosiers who have taken these classes and acquired these permits. Therefore it is clear that this new reciprocity license would not benefit these Indiana residents at all.
It appears to me that this bill is an attempt to make the carrying of a firearm in Indiana a privilege when it is in fact a right.

It is my opinion that the citizens who carry an Indiana Lifetime License, past present and future, do so understanding its symbolism and its value. In and of itself, that little pink card of ours is a pledge to exercise our rights according to the 2nd Amendment in a legal, socially conscious manner. It is a pledge to remain a “proper” person as defined by statute; a law abiding citizen who is more concerned with the possible infringement on his rights than he is with reciprocity with other states. In Indiana we are held to a higher standard; we inspire righteousness with the issuance of our Lifetime License. To the Brady Group, yes, we do believe that Hoosiers are the same person over time; it is because of this expectation that accompanies this license that we are. We reaffirm that we will be law abiding citizens throughout our life by having this license and being willing to accept the consequences if we do not. It is a matter of remaining diligent in our background checks and being thorough before issuance. The issuance of a license without an expiration date only enhances the citizens’ conscience to remain law abiding and fulfill their obligations as Hoosiers. It is a responsibility they carry with pride. I am proud to have an Indiana Lifetime License and I have a deep respect for Indiana and its upholding of the Constitution in issuing these Licenses.

If however, Bill No.555 is passed and it becomes law, I intend to continue working to the best of my abilities and strengths to uphold the law and comply with the decisions of this governing body. As an instructor I will continue to teach and train citizens both ethically and responsibly on the competency and safe handling of firearms, their use in sport and self-defense, and the legal ramifications thereof.

I thank you for your time and consideration, God Bless you – Jonathan W Wallace II