Concerns Raised Over IN's New Permitless Handgun-Carry Law

Indiana's new law allowing people to carry a handgun without a permit is raising concerns from the state's gun-safety advocates.

Under the law signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb last month, it'll still be illegal for folks who were barred from carrying a handgun before the measure passed to do so come July, when the law takes effect. But without the permitting process, said Jerald King, president of the Indianapolis-based group Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence, that's a safeguard without any enforcement mechanism.

"It seems to us," he said, "that large numbers of people who would not have passed background checks will now go to gun shops and buy guns."

Several law-enforcement agencies also have raised concerns that the measure would streamline the process to acquire a gun, potentially flooding the state with deadly weapons. With the passage of Indiana's law, nearly half of all U.S. states now allow permitless carry in some form.

King said a previous version of the bill contained compromises to make it more agreeable to critics. However, he added, the compromise version approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee was referred to the Senate Rules Committee, where it stagnated and died. The Indinapolis Star reported that the bill's original language then was inserted into a separate bill on the final day of the legislative session, and passed.

"Not only was it a horrible policy, but it came about through connivance and disingenuous arguments," King said. "So, it was a pretty bad experience all around."

Jen Haan, a volunteer leader for the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action, said the new measure will have serious consequences for Indiana's kids and teens. According to a January report from the gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, an average of 110 Hoosier children and teens die each year from gun violence, and one-third of those deaths are suicides.

"We are in a gun-violence crisis here in the state of Indiana," she said. "The leading cause of death for children and teens in Indiana is gun violence, and the majority of those are gun homicides."

The report said overall gun deaths in Indiana hit a ten-year high in 2020. The gun-death rate during that period also increased by nearly 80% in Indiana, compared with 33% nationally.

Haan said Moms Demand Action offers online gun-safety resources through its "Be Smart for Kids" initiative. For Indianapolis residents, she said, the Marion County Sheriff's office offers free gun locks.

By Jonah Chester, April 1, 2022