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Gun bill advances without exemption for Indy venues

April 12, 2011

A bill that would allow gun-permit holders to carry their weapons into most public places is on track for approval without a major exemption for the Indiana Convention Center and other city venues.

The Capital Improvement Board, which runs the Indiana Convention Center and the city’s professional sports venues, had hoped to get an exemption to Senate Bill 292, which pre-empts local government rules about where people can carry guns.

Instead, the CIB expects to see an amendment that says it may enforce rules set out by promoters in their leased areas. The upshot would be that the National Football League (and the Indianapolis Colts) could continue to ban guns at games, and convention promoters could put bans on guns in their contracts. However, a ban would not apply to the convention center’s common areas, which are open to the public, and two conventions operating side-by-side could have different rules about guns.

The bill’s author, Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, said his goal was to eliminate the patchwork of local ordinances, which could ensnare unwitting licensed gun holders. He said he wasn’t especially concerned about Indianapolis.

“We gotta realize we’re talking about an entire state here,” Tomes said. “We just want to quit oppressing the legitimate citizen and focus on criminal activity.”

When the bill was first introduced, it prompted protest by Colts owner Jim Irsay and concern among CIB members. The CIB’s general counsel, Toby McClamroch, lobbied for an exemption, but didn’t find much support.

McClamroch told the board in a meeting Monday he was confident the weaker amendment would be made before the Wednesday hearing by the House Public Policy Committee.

“Most of the changes to the bill are clarifications," said the committee chairman, Rep. Jim Davis, R-Portland.

In other business Monday, the CIB accepted a new three-year contract that expires July 1, 2013, with Teamsters Local 135, which handles some housekeeping, setup and groundskeeping duties for the CIB.

The contract gives full-time Teamsters a raise of 34 cents per hour, retroactive to July 1, 2010, and 33 cents per hour each year going forward. The 43 full-timers will make $16.15 per hour now, and $16.81 per hour by the end of the contract.

Part-time Teamsters will get a 10-cent raise, to $10.27 per hour. The setup crew, which fluctuates in size, will make $18.37 per hour after a 20-cent raise and $18.77 per hour by the end of the contract.

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