The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 09, 2022 1:00 am

Smaltz pushes gun bill despite own poll

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Lawmakers regularly poll their constituents on upcoming topics as they handle business at the Statehouse. But sometimes they don't actually listen to them.

Second Amendment advocate Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, is pushing a bill this year to eliminate licenses to carry handguns in the state. The proposal is often referred to as constitutional carry.

In 2019 his survey asked, “Do you believe Hoosiers who are legally permitted to possess a handgun should be able to carry a handgun in public without first applying for and obtaining a state issued license?”

Smaltz's results showed 64% saying no, 31% yes, and 5% undecided.

But that didn't stop him from again filing the bill, which was approved last week by a committee he chairs.

Smaltz did not respond to a request seeking comment.

A few of his colleagues asked the question in 2021 and got these responses: 54% in Rep. Alan Morrison's district opposed, and 60% in Rep. Michelle Davis' district said no.

City Council vote 'disingenuous'

Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine criticized the four Fort Wayne City Council Democrats who elected Republican Jason Arp council president.

Shine was also critical of Arp, who was elected in a 5-4 vote Tuesday night.

“The disingenuous Democrats are on the same level as disloyal Jason Arp,” Shine said Wednesday. “The Democrats have nothing in common with Arp.”

Democrats Glynn Hines, Sharon Tucker, Michelle Chambers and Geoff Paddock joined Arp in electing him president. Republicans Tom Didier, Russ Jehl, Paul Ensley and Tom Freistroffer all voted against Arp.

The Democrats don't share any opinions with Arp on national, state and local issues, Shine said, and they were only trying to better the odds of having a Democratic councilman be president in 2023.

Hines was elected vice president for this year, and vice presidents often are elected president the next year.

“It's very telling when all four members of your party don't think you're qualified to be president,” Shine said.

Hines said Tuesday that Arp should be given a chance and the vote shows bipartisanship at the leadership level. Arp said it was his turn.

Connection made, not all on board

The Southwest Allen County Schools board Tuesday was at risk of adjourning without officers chosen for 2022.

One of the five members, Mark Gilpin, planned to participate remotely, but his connection was lost when the meeting began, prompting his colleagues to start with the business meeting instead of the annual reorganization tasks.

President Bradley Mills noted the board had until mid-January to elect officers, but the board didn't need to worry about rescheduling.

Gilpin's online connection was eventually restored, and the importance of his participation in the selection of president, vice president and secretary quickly became apparent.

He and two others – Mills and Doug Copley – rejected Jennifer Bennett's nominees: Jennifer Couch as president, Bennett as vice president and Copley as secretary. The two women supported the slate.

Gilpin instead suggested Mills remain as president, and he nominated Couch as vice president and Copley as secretary. That passed 3-2 along gender lines.

Kerley keeps chair; Armstrong gets VP

Allen County Councilman Kyle Kerley, R-at large, will lead the council as president for another year. 

The County Council met Thursday morning to reorganize. Councilman Chris Spurr, R-4th, who was vice president last year, nominated Councilman Bob Armstrong, R-at large, to serve as vice president. 

Both motions were approved unanimously. Armstrong has been on council since 2008, but this is his first time as vice president. 

Kerley has been a member of the County Council since 2018. 

Jim Chapman, Ashley Sloboda and Devan Filchak of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column. 

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