INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — Indiana may soon join 21 states allowing permit-less gun carry.
House Bill 1296 repeals the law that requires a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in Indiana.
The Indiana Senate approved the bill 30-20 on Tuesday after House members earlier voted 68-30 largely along party lines in what was among the final issues taken up as the Republican-dominated Legislature neared adjournment of this year’s session.
The bill now moves to the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has not said whether he supports the concept of not requiring handgun permits but still promised “careful thought.” The governor has seven days to sign, according to the original House bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ben Smaltz of Auburn. Past the seven-day period, the bill becomes law automatically.
If the bill does become law, Indiana gun owners still have to pass a federal background check that indicates individuals with criminal histories or documented mental illness, among other status reasons.
The new legislation would address the state licensing and registration of handguns for gun owners 18 and older, regardless of whether they are carried openly or concealed, Smaltz told WANE 15 Wednesday. It does not address rifles or long guns which have become more common with gangs around the country, police experts have said.
“Prior to lawful carry, you could walk down the street with a rifle over your shoulder, but it was unlawful to walk the same street with a handgun in your belt,” Smaltz said. Smaltz represents DeKalb County and other areas in northeastern Indiana.
Nearly all law enforcement agencies have opposed the legislation, including Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, who said if lawmakers “support this bill, you will not be supporting us.”
WANE 15 reached out to Carter for a comment Wednesday and received this statement:
“Superintendent Carter will not be making any public statements regarding the Constitutional Carry bill. He stands by his testimony provided before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 23 in which Senator Liz Brown was the chair,” the statement read.
Brown, a Republican from Fort Wayne, voted against the bill. Law enforcement has said without the permitting process, it will make it more difficult to determine whether an individual on a traffic stop or in an investigation is allowed to carry a handgun.
Smaltz said the Hoosier bill has changed nothing about purchasing a handgun.
“When you purchase a firearm at a gun store or gun show, you have to go through a federal background check to purchase your firearm. There’s nothing about that that has changed,” Smaltz said. “We did not touch anything regarding the purchase of a firearm. Same today, same tomorrow.”
Buyers are still required to fill out federal form 4473, linked to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
What will change if the legislation is signed is, the permit requirements that cost users money will disappear, although the state will replenish money lost to law enforcement agencies who collected fees through the permit process. That money, estimated to be between $2.5 and $3.5 million, will be reimbursed through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Smaltz said.
“If you had a carry permit in Indiana, you could carry your gun openly or concealed,” Smaltz explained. “You had to have a carry permit to do that.”
In order to do that, Hoosiers had to go through several steps:
- Complete a firearm license application on line
- Schedule an appointment to have your fingerprints taken
- Complete the application in 180 days
- Wait until the application was accepted or rejected
Even without the permit, the new legislation doesn’t mean a gun owner can carry a handgun anywhere. Private business and venue owners have the right to set their own laws. You also can’t be a “prohibited person.” That would include convicted domestic batterers, criminal stalkers, murderers, rapists, kidnappers, undocumented residents, fugitives from justice, military dishonorably discharged persons and mentally unfit, among others.
“If you have an adjudication, they’ll find it,” Smaltz predicted.
Some prohibited places would include jails, court rooms, schools and school buses, Smaltz said.
Smaltz said gun owners can still get gun permits and are recommended if you want to travel interstate.
“We have reciprocity with 31 states,” Smaltz said. “So if you were traveling to Florida for Spring Break, you might go through Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to get there,” and a gun license is required.
There is no reciprocity in Illinois. Driving through Illinois, gun owners would be required to keep the firearm in the trunk of the car, unloaded and locked up. “Safe passage,” Smaltz said, means “you cannot get out of your vehicle with your firearm. You cannot have ready access to it.”
Texas is the most recent state to do away with permits for open and concealed carry of firearms, according to a report from statista.com. A statista report dated Nov. 22, 2021, provides a chart showing state laws on gun permits.
Currently, nine states require permits for open and concealed carry. Five others, that include Washington D.C., require permits for concealed carry and prohibit the open carry of most guns. Fifteen states allow open carry of guns without a permit, but do require one for concealed carry, the report said.