INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers are now one month away from big changes when it comes to carrying handguns in public.
Indiana House Bill 1296, which was signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in March, takes effect July 1.
The law allows most people over the age of 18 to carry a handgun in public without a permit.
At the time of the signing, Holcomb issued the following statement:
“The Second Amendment has been debated for years, yet time and again our U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed this important constitutional right that I fully support. Twenty-three other states have laws comparable to HEA 1296. Vermont has had a constitutional carry law in place since it became a state, and several other states have had a similar law for more than a decade. HEA 1296, which I've signed today, entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our State. It’s important to note that if a person is prohibited, under federal or state laws, from possessing a firearm before this law goes into effect, that person will still be prohibited. And if a prohibited person has a firearm, he or she can be prosecuted. Firearm permits will remain available, without fee, to anyone who wants or needs one, such as Hoosiers desiring to carry a firearm to, through or in another state that has reciprocity with Indiana.”
In signing the bill into law, Holcomb went against the vocal opposition of his state police superintendent and other local law enforcement.
"I'm concerned about it," said ISP Superintendent Doug Carter. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you we've got it figured out because we don't."
Carter said this new law will challenge frontline law enforcement, both internally and externally.
"More often than not, that crime gun that we find connects itself to multiple crimes," Carter said, "and we are going to lose that ability because we can't even ask someone if they have a permit or not."
With that in mind, Carter said House Bill 1296 is "too intricate to understand, follow or enforce."
"I hope our citizens move slow and deliberate like we will," Carter said. "I think that's going to be part of our message."
Both Holcomb and Carter noted exceptions to the new bill, meaning people over the age of 18 are not automatically allowed to carry a handgun.
"I hear it from people that will say, 'anybody can carry a handgun now in Indiana. It's a permit-less state,'" Carter said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
Carter said a person must be considered a "proper person," as defined by Indiana Code 2021.
"If you have a felony conviction," Carter said, "you cannot possess a handgun after July 1."
Carter says the "proper person" list will be even more stringent come July 1.
Some aspects of carrying a handgun in Indiana will not change, according to Carter, like the federally required background check before obtaining a gun.
Holcomb said more than 20 other states have passed similar laws, but Carter said he isn't worried about other states.
"Well, what other state are we?" Carter asked. "We are not any other state. We are right here Indiana."
Carter admitted gun violence is on the minds of many Americans, especially after the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting in May.
When asked for his message to Hoosiers who are worried about more permit-less guns in their communities, Carter was straightforward in his answer.
"They should be," Carter said. "They should be."
Carter said not everyone carrying a gun in public is committing crimes. In fact, he said the number of people carrying exposed handguns has grown exponentially over the past few months, according to his observation.
He expects that number to increase even further after July 1.
Carter encourages Hoosiers to continue to apply for handgun permits, regardless of the new law. He says just because people don't have to get one doesn't mean they can't.
"That's really what I'm asking and begging people to do," Carter said. "Please keep applying for that permit and carry that card with you."