FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As of Friday, July 1, regular folk don’t have to worry about acquiring for a permit to carry a handgun.
House Bill 1296 took effect Friday. It repeals the law requiring people to get a license to carry a handgun in Indiana. That means people don’t have to get a license or permit from the state as long as they’re allowed to have a handgun.
Law enforcement doesn’t like it and the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office is still trying to work out the implications of the law.
“We’re all looking at it to see what the practical implications will be as we move along,” said Michael McAlexander, Allen County’s chief deputy prosecutor. “We are concerned for the safety of our law enforcement officers when they go up on a car for a traffic stop or something, of what kind of information they’re going to have about the people in the car. This is going to loosen things up.”
Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux has been against the law since its proposal. He said it’s “pretty self explanatory” how it affects officer safety.
“We know many, many times before you even approach the car, we would know who the driver is, who owns the car, who has a permit and possibly, who has a gun in a car. Now we’re not going to have that tool,” Gladieux said Friday.
The sheriff blamed the legislation’s passage on pressure the National Rifle Association put on the legislators.
“The only reason I’ve heard from any legislators is ‘well, it just takes so long to get a permit. Really? A few weeks? What’s wrong with a few weeks to keep your cops safe?” Gladieux said.
In Indiana law, not having a handgun permit was a misdemeanor. When the law was proposed, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office had 5-10 cases involving the charge. Those are now under review, McAlexander said.
McAlexander said, though, that anyone previously charged with not having a handgun permit under the old law would still be on the hook because it was against the law at the time the offense was committed.
“The law is ‘as it is’ at the time the felony was committed,” McAlexander said. “So if you were arrested prior to July 1 of this year, that charge is still there. You would still be held accountable. Now realistically, the sentence may be different now because we understand the will of the legislature was to change that finding, but technically it is still there under the law.”
While seemingly simple, the law has led to some confusion about who can possess a handgun in Indiana.
Indiana law still prohibits felons from possessing a handgun, McAlexander reminded.
“If you have a prior felony conviction, and you are found with a handgun, that will also be a Level 5 felony,” McAlexander explained.
“For the general person that doesn’t fall in to one of the prohibited categories, it means they don’t have to handgun permit issued by the state anymore.”
Prohibited categories include:
- serious violent felons
- people who have prior felony convictions in the last 15 years
- people who are under felony indictment or charges
- a person adjudicated and deemed dangerous
- a person deemed mentally defective or committed to a mental institution
- a person who has a restraining order filed against them
- a person who has a conviction for domestic violence, domestic battery or stalking
- a person who’s been dishonorably discharged from the military or the National Guard
- a juvenile under the age of 23 with a finding that would qualify as a serious violent felon
Also, people under 18 are not to possess guns except in specific supervised circumstances, McAlexander said.