Free 5-year firearms, handgun licenses starting July 1

Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Starting Wednesday, state and local fees will be waived for the five-year, previously four-year, ‘Qualified License’ and the ‘Unlimited License’ gun licenses in Indiana with legal protections for gun owners against civil lawsuits.

First authored by House Representative Jim Lucas in January of 2019, House Bill 1284 goes into full effect on July 1, 2020.

The ‘Qualified License’ is for hunting and target shooting. However, it is only for the gun license. In order to go hunting, an additional hunting license for the particular game a person wishes to hunt is required. The ‘Unlimited License’ is for handguns only and allows for concealed carry in 32 states where that’s recognized.

Rep. Ben Smaltz. R-District 52, one of the co-authors of the bill, said in an interview that “removing financial barriers to someone being able to exercise their Second Amendment right is very important. It came to light over several hearings and it was our goal to eliminate those barriers for cost.”

Prior to July 1, 2020, a four-year firearm and handgun licenses had local fees and a state fee. Many Indiana congressmen and women felt this infringed on a person’s Second Amendment right.

“The overarching goal of all of this is to put the ability in the hands of the person defending themselves,” Rep. Smaltz said.

Under this new law, a person will still be able to hold a lifetime license, a five-year license or hold both. The lifetime license still has state and local fees attached.

When asked why a person might hold both the lifetime license and a five-year license, Rep. Smaltz explained that “[the] five year license will allow, if the State of Indiana and the Federal ATF come together, will allow a person to purchase a handgun during the period of their five-year licensewithout having to undergo a ‘NICS check‘ every time.”

He continued saying that this is beneficial for a person who has a common name. It eliminates a long, drawn out process for a background check.

In the state of Indiana, residents and those who work in the state but reside in another state may apply for either license. Rep. Smaltz told WANE 15 that the bill allows a person to be able to register to vote when they are applying for your license to carry a handgun.

No class is required by law to hold a license. The reason for this is that lawmakers believe that requiring a person to pay for a class infringes on their right to exercise the Second Amendment. While no class is required, many people do still take a class to learn the laws surrounding carrying a firearm.

The Firearms Licensing Department of the Indiana State Police said in an interview that finger printing is still required and there is a fee associated with the process. Information on finger printing locations can be found here.

Other aspects of the bill will went into effect on July 1, 2019.

“Two pieces of the same law, but went into effect last July, [are] civil immunity in certain instances with justifiable use of force [and] giving all houses of worship the ability to decide their policy on their parishioners exercising their Second Amendment right while attending worship at their facility,” explained Rep. Smaltz.

Lawmakers additionally felt the need to make sure Hoosiers had protection against civil lawsuits where a person was found to have not committed a crime but then sued civilly by the criminal or the criminal’s family.

Rep. Smaltz told the story of when Kystie Phillips shot a man who was assaulting a police officer and was found innocent of any wrong doing. She was sued civilly and this caused financial struggles for her and her family. The case was dismissed in June 2019.

Lawmakers understand that houses of worship can be targets for attacks and decided to give houses of worship the opportunity to decide what they felt was best for their particular congregation, Rep. Smaltz explained.

“I do hope earnestly that everyone who is eligible for a free five-year permit acquires one,” said Rep. Smaltz.

To apply for a ‘Qualified license’ or an ‘Unlimited License’ go to the Indiana Government website.

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