Indiana became the 24th constitutional carry state in the nation Monday as Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a law repealing the permit requirement for possessing handguns.
Once the change takes effect this summer, anyone age 18 or older will be able to legally carry a handgun in public except for reasons such as having a felony conviction or having a dangerous mental illness.
Holcomb previously sidestepped giving his stance on the contentious bill, which was pushed through by Republican lawmakers but opposed by Indiana's top law enforcement official, county prosecutors and the state's police chiefs association.
Following the signing Monday, the governor said in a statement that the permit repeal bill “entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our state.”
So, what does the law mean for Hoosiers and specifically what changes?
Here's what to know:
What the Law Allows
Permits to require handguns will be required for a few months longer, but won't be necessary beginning July 1.
Indiana currently requires people to obtain a license to carry a loaded handgun outside their own homes, businesses and cars, although people can generally carry rifles and shotguns without a permit.
By the governor's signing, Indiana joined 23 other states that allow residents to carry handguns without permits, which gun rights advocates call constitutional carry, in reference to the Second Amendment.
Supporters argue the permit requirement undermines Second Amendment protections by forcing law-abiding citizens to undergo police background checks that can take weeks.
Do You Still Need a Background Check to Purchase a Gun?
Anyone who wants to buy a gun from a Federal Firearms License dealer will still need to undergo a background check, according to legislators. Dealers will check the FBI's National Instant Background Check System to verify if the individual can legally possess a firearm under federal law.
Once the law takes effect July 1, people just won't have to take the additional step of obtaining a license.
Who Can't Possess a Gun?
Generally, people in Indiana are legally barred from possessing a handgun for reasons such as having a felony conviction or having a dangerous mental illness.
Those in the following categories also legally aren't permitted to carry a handgun under state law, according to Indiana Senate Republicans.
- Convicted of a federal or state offense punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year
- Fugitive from justice
- Convicted of a crime of domestic violence, domestic battery or criminal stalking
- Restrained by an order of protection
- Under indictment
- Adjudicated dangerous or mental defective
- Committed to a mental institution
- Dishonorably discharged from military service or the National Guard
- Less than 18 years of age
- A person who renounces the person's United States citizenship in the manner described in 8 U.S.C. 1481
Should You Still Get a Permit?
Permits still will be available, but just not mandatory.
In a statement, Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said state police will continue to encourage citizens to apply for and maintain a permit, explaining it will assist law enforcement and allow reciprocity with other states.
Law Enforcement Concerns
State Police Superintendent Carter, the state’s Fraternal Order of Police, police chiefs association and county prosecutors association rejected the proposal as it was being considered by lawmakers earlier this year.
They maintained the permit repeal would strip officers of a screening tool for quickly identifying dangerous people they encounter who shouldn’t have guns.
“It’s often so easy to talk about your support for public safety,” Carter said earlier this year. “But if you choose to support this bill, you will not be supporting us.”
However, he vowed cooperation in a statement Monday.
"I will work with law enforcement leaders across our state to make necessary changes to firearms enforcement as well as finding the best way to identify individuals who are not allowed to carry a firearm as defined by Indiana statute," he said.