It’s now legal to carry a handgun in Indiana’s state parks, a move seen as the latest victory for the gun lobby, the Indianapolis Star reports. In the past, you had to keep your piece locked in your car. Now licensed handgun owners can pack while birding, hiking, or picnicking. The change was announced a day before Gov. Mitch Daniels was to share the stage with National Rifle Association President Sandra S. Froman at a forum on gun rights. The director of the park agency since March 2005 is an avid hunter and NRA member.
State Rep. Matt Pierce, a Democrat, saw the move as an attempt to bolster public support for Republican Daniels, whose popularity has flagged in recent polls. “The link with the NRA suggests to me it’s all political,” Pierce said. “I’ve never had someone complain to me they couldn’t carry their gun into a park.”An Indianapolis Star report two years ago found that nearly one in 15 state residents has a gun permit, putting Indiana near the top nationally in per-capita gun permits. State Police officials said there are about 288,000 active handgun permits in Indiana. Natural resource agency director Kyle Hupfer, who is rarely seen without a holstered pistol, said a gun could come in handy in the woods should a hiker happen upon people making methamphetamine, an illegal drug that can make its users antagonistic.