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GREENWOOD, Ind. — There is no longer a fee to obtain a lifetime permit to carry a gun in the state of Indiana. The response from Hoosiers has been so overwhelming that it’s bogging down Indiana State Police’s firearms licensing website.

“As expected, we’ve had an influx of applications on our website. We’re asking folks that want to apply for that to be patient,” said ISP public information officer, Sgt. John Perrine.

Perrine confirmed that ISP received 7,136 applications through the site in the first 24 hours after the permits became fee exempt.

ISP has several notices posted on its website for Hoosiers looking to apply for their lifetime permit to carry a handgun. One of those warns that due to high volume of applications, there may be delays in accessing the firearms portal.

If you run into that issue when you attempt to apply, you may see a message that reads, “We’re sorry, due to a high number of current applicants, we must limit the number of individuals applying at one time. Please try again later.”

ISP is also warning people that due to the high volume, there could be delays in scheduling your fingerprint appointment online.

The new law went into place on July 1, exactly one year after the state removed the fee to obtain a five-year license to carry. The five-year and lifetime permits, according to ISP, can be held at the same time by an individual.

The exemption does not apply to costs associated with background checks or fingerprinting, which are a required part of the firearms application process and are conducted by a third-party service and at the local level.

Perrine said, “The process begins with the Indiana State Police and ends with the Indiana State Police, however, a lot of the process is also done at the local level with police departments and sheriff’s departments.”

Because of the many moving parts and based on the volume of applications already received, Perrine said patience is key for those applying.

“Understand it’s not a fast process and we are gonna work as hard and diligently as we can, however, we are not going to sacrifice the important steps that are needed in order to issue a gun permit.”

Perrine said in recent years, ISP has observed an influx in gun permit applications. “Although we knew that the numbers could potentially increase, understand that the Indiana State Police is just part of this process.”

At Atkinson Firearms in Greenwood, store manager Luke Surface said they have also noticed the increase in people purchasing a firearm, particularly during the pandemic. He said, although the number of people purchasing a gun each week from them has slowed down a bit, they have still seen high numbers, particularly ahead of the July 1 change.

“A lot of people have already purchased their handgun in lieu of the fee being free,” said Surface.

“What they’ve done is they’re worried that they might not be able to get a gun with the times being how they are, so they went ahead and purchased a handgun, which it’s legal to own a handgun in the state of Indiana without the license.”

Surface said people come to them with a variety of reasons for wanting a handgun.

“A lot of times people want a gun just for the very simple reason of self-protection, especially older people, women, people who live alone,” said Surface, “maybe they’re in a situation in their life where somebody is particularly dangerous. They’ll all come in to, you know, get their feet wet and that’s what we try to do at the shop is get you comfortable with the gun that is gonna work out best for you.”

“Applying and receiving a permit to carry a handgun in the state of Indiana is only a small piece that comes with the responsibility of owning a firearm,” said Perrine.

He said people need to do their due-diligence and understand what it means to purchase and own a firearm.

“Be prepared to shoulder those responsibilities that come with it,” said Perrine. “That education and training is key because irresponsible gun ownership leads to potentially deadly and often deadly consequences.”

Surface said now that people are eliminating the fee for their lifetime permit, they could use that money to put towards related educational opportunities.

“You can put it towards training, education, especially if it’s your first gun, that’s something that’s really important,” said Surface. “You’re gonna need to know how to operate it, you’re gonna need to know the safety, you’re gonna need to know the stuff like different types of grain weights, different bullets and projectiles.”

It could be some time before someone knows whether they will be approved for their lifetime permit to carry.

“There are a lot of people who are filing those applications and it’s very important that we independently review each application and put it through the same process that we always have, to be sure that these applications are properly vetted, and the background checks are complete,” Perrine shared.

He also said when it comes to the application process, there’s an important aspect people need to know.

“When you go on the Indiana State Police website, you’re going to be asked to create for an account when applying for an Indiana gun permit,” he said.

When the account is created, an application number is generated. Perrine said anyone applying MUST keep that number. He encourages Hoosiers write it down, screenshot it, take a picture, whatever needs to be done.

He said it’s important people keep this number handy, because any time you log back in or log in to check the status of a fingerprinting application, you will need it.

Perrine said people have created a new account after losing that number, but all this does is bog down the system even more and create dead-end applications that ISP must use resources to review.