INDIANAPOLIS — On July 1 when Indiana’s Gun Permit Law is scrapped, police officers all across the state will have to grapple with understanding how far they can go in determining if someone with a gun is legally in possession of a firearm.
“It’s going to be complicated for us and I’m not sure where it’s going to end,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.
This week both IMPD and the State Police began training officers and troopers on Indiana’s new Permitless Carry law.
“In the past it was always a burden on the citizens to prove that they could legally carry a firearm through the permitting process, that they had a gun permit,” said IMPD’s Training Commander Major Aaron Snyder. “The change now falls on law enforcement to prove that they’re unlawfully allowed to carry a firearm.”
Anyone who is at least 18-years-old and is not otherwise prohibited can possess a handgun without a permit beginning a week from Friday.
Carter said even though Indiana has relaxed its permit provision, the new law puts some even tougher prohibitions into place.
“Now we’re referencing the federal prohibition,” he said, referring to restrictions such as a gun possessor under criminal indictment, convicted of domestic violence or criminal stalking, adjudicated as mentally defective, a sex offender, an alien, restrained by a protective order or convicted of a serious felony.
“They need to dig a little deeper a little bit and to see if they are a prohibited carry,” said Snyder regarding his best advice to street officers when encountering someone with a gun. ”I think it changes in some of the questions that they’re gonna ask. They might ask if they have a felony conviction or they’re gonna check if they have a protective order filed against them or not.”
Approximately 80% of Indianapolis’ 100+ homicides this year were committed with firearms.
Carter said the new law will prohibit troopers from inquiring about possessor’s legal status if a gun is spotted absent of any other serious crime.
“We can’t take that pistol and run the identification numbers on it anymore and see if it’s stolen or not,” he said. “We can’t run a criminal history on the driver even though there’s something not right, just something not right about this particular situation.
“What do we do with that gun when we find it? What did he or she just do with it? Or what are they gonna do with it when they leave?”
Carter expects fewer illegal guns and illegal gun possessors or violent crime suspects will be caught due to restrictions from the new law.
“Yes, that number is going to go absolutely down,” he said. “Why would we submit that to the prosecutor when we know we shouldn’t, so, we won’t do that. We just won’t do that. It’s going to be difficult to track the effects of this. We talked about that internally: how do we track that interaction with a gun we couldn’t access and what were the consequences of that?”
Every year ISP turns down approximately 6,000 applicants trying to receive a gun permit.
“Mental health scares me the most because we don’t have direct contact with local police and local sheriffs because they know their citizens,” said Carter, “and with all those things that are happening in this country, that is the thing that concerns me the most.”
Even though the law requiring a firearms permit will expire, Carter said officers will still be able to access existing records as part of an investigation.
He recommends Hoosiers who seek to carry their guns in states with reciprocal agreements still apply for permits.
“The sky’s not falling here,” he said, “but it puts an additional layer of danger on every police officer in this state and it created some tremendous, tremendous challenges for us.”