A Quick Look at Applying for a Handgun License and Appealing a Denial

OBTAINING A HANDGUN LICENSE IN INDIANA AND APPEALING THE DENIAL OF YOUR INDIANA HANDGUN APPLICATION FOR A LICENSE/PERMIT

One of the most fundamental laws of this country is the right to bear arms — so much so, it was immortalized in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. And, depending on your political view, the Right to Bear Arms has become one of the most hotly debated social issues that exist today. Be it the Trayvon Martin case or the famous United States v. Miller, U.S. Supreme Court decision interpreting the Second Amendment, people line up on both sides of the isle citing statistics that they hope will bolster their opinion and debunk the oppositions’.

Moreover, with each change in the political season in the White House and Congress, a renewed interest in owning, possessing, licensing, and permitting handguns is reignited.  That could be limiting such or increasing the right to do so — again, depending on whom you ask. This blog is intended not for flaming those debates, but rather as a tool explaining the Indiana Licensing process, who is automatically disqualified, and what happens if you believe you were wrongfully denied a permit or license.

THE STEPS TO OBTAIN A LICENSE

  1. Learn the Process:
    1. The first step in obtaining a license in Indiana is to go to Indiana state-website and read through all the information on the website. Click here to be taken there.
    2. Read the law in Indiana by clicking here.
    3. Before you apply, you might consider reading our other blogs in preparing to file the appeal.
      1. Restoring Gun Rights by Petition, click here.
      2. Federal denials are different than state-based denials, click here to find out why.
      3. Expungements once weren’t enough, but now they can be, click here to find out why and what language is crucial to your success.
    4. To begin an application, click here.

i.      A Quick Overview of the Relevant Laws:

  1. Indiana Law: 35-47-1-7: In order to obtain a handgun permit in Indiana, an applicant must show that they are a “proper person.” A proper person is defined as follows:

“(1) does not have a conviction for resisting law enforcement under IC 35-44.1-3-1 within five (5) years before the person applies for a license or permit under this chapter

(2) does not have a conviction for a crime for which the person could have been sentenced for more than one (1) year [a.k.a a felony that has not been reduced to a misdemeanor] –

NOTEthis applies regardless of how much time has passed, even if the conviction is 30 years old! However, if a felony was reduced to a misdemeanor, you can still qualify!;

(3) does not have a conviction for a crime of domestic violence (as defined in IC 35-31.5-2-78), unless a court has restored the person’s right to possess a firearm under IC 35-47-4-7;

NOTE: if you were criminally convicted of a domestic case, the language in the plea almost always discusses the loss of the right to possess a firearm. As such, you are precluded from getting a license, UNLESS, you hire a lawyer to reinstate the privilege through a separate filing with the court of original jurisdiction.

(4) is not prohibited by a court order from possessing a handgun;

(5) does not have a record of being an alcohol or drug abuser as defined in this chapter;

NOTE: this is incredibly subjective, and it is completely up to the administrative law judge to make a determination as to whether he/she believes you have a problem. As a general rule of thumb, two (2) or more convictions for substance-related offenses in the past five (5) years will preclude you from getting a concealed carry permit.

(6) does not have documented evidence which would give rise to a reasonable belief that the person has a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct;

(7) does not make a false statement of material fact on the person’s application;

NOTE: more often than not this is a scrivener’s error (i.e. you forgot a conviction, listed the wrong offense, had the wrong year, etc.) As such, these can often be cleared up relatively easily assuming it isn’t shown you knowingly lied on the application.

(8) does not have a conviction for any crime involving an inability to safely handle a handgun;

NOTE: as a rule of thumb, any conviction in your past (whether a misdemeanor or felony) that involves the use of a firearm (i.e. criminal recklessness, pointing a firearm, etc.), the administrative law judge will deny your application and/or appeal. The best approach is to try to seal or expunge the conviction.

(9) does not have a conviction for violation of the provisions of this article within five (5) years of the person’s application;

(10) does not have an adjudication as a delinquent child for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, if the person applying for a license or permit under this chapter is less than twenty-three (23) years of age;

(11) has not been involuntarily committed, other than a temporary commitment for observation or evaluation, to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority;

(12) has not been the subject of a:

(A) ninety (90) day commitment as a result of proceeding under IC 12-26-6; or

(B) regular commitment under IC 12-26-7; or

(13) has not been found by a court to be mentally incompetent, including being found:

(A) not guilty by reason of insanity;

(B) guilty but mentally ill; or

(C) incompetent to stand trial.”

  1. Federal Law, 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g), makes it unlawful for the following people to carry, ship, transport, sell/buy, and/or possess a firearm:
    1. Any person convicted of a crime for a term exceeding one year (typically a felony)
    2. A fugitive from justice
    3. Someone addicted to any controlled substance
    4. Someone adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution
    5. An illegal alien or unlawfully within the U.S.
    6. Someone “dishonorably discharged” from the armed forces
    7. Someone who has renounced citizenship
    8. People that are subject to a court order, such as a No Contact Order, Protective Order, or Stay Away Order
    9. A person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
    10. Indiana, I.C. 35-47-4-5 – Serious Violent Felons cannot carry, ship, transport, sell/buy, and/or possess firearms.
    11. Application: The next step is to fill out the online application at http://www.in.gov/isp/2724.htm
    12. Fingerprinting: you can either go to your local police department with the application to be fingerprinted, or you can do electronic fingerprints through Morpho Trust, click here for a link to that website.
      1. Electronic Fingerprints Faster: without question, electronic submission of your fingerprints is faster than the old-fashioned thumb to ink method.
      2. Local Police Department: whichever way you get fingerprinted, you will then go to the local police department to complete the process.
      3. Fees: click here to see a list of the fees associated with filing an application.

DELAYS IN PROCESSING LICENSE REQUESTS:

Despite the Indiana State Police’s claim that, so long as there are no errors in your application, “[you] should be issued [a license] within 60 days,” the process is actually spanning more than 16-20 weeks. Yep, that long, especially on a lifetime permit.
There are a few things that almost always delay the process:

  1. Criminal History – as the Indiana State Police must verify all convictions and arrests
  2. Fees – if the fee you paid doesn’t exactly match the fee requested on the application
  3. Medical & Work Records – failure to provide the required paperwork
  4. Incomplete Application
  5. Submitted Duplicate Applications

Despite the long — and I mean LONNNNNNNGGGG wait for your handgun permit/license, you should eventually (assuming you did everything right and qualify!) receive a letter from the Indiana State Police with a section that you can cut out and laminate for your wallet. Depending on if you are requesting a 4-year permit or lifetime permit, the color of the permit can be different, and the wait to receive it can vary as well.

COMMON REASONS FOR DENIALS:

Most denials are based on someone not qualifying as a “proper person”

  1. False Statements of Material Fact: as state above, this typically occurs when you fail to list a prior conviction and/or you make a scrivener’s error when filling out the application. These can typically be cleared up rather easily and account for probably 95% of all denials.
  2. Felonies: if you have a felony that HAS NOT BEEN REDUCED TO A MISDEMEANOR, no matter the age or level of felony, you cannot qualify for a license
  3. Substance Abuse: if you have multiple substance abuse convictions (i.e. DUI, OVWI, Possession of drugs, etc.)  and/or recent (within the past five (5) years)
  4. Expungements: Just recently the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms division of the federal government started getting involved in handgun permit appeals. The reason being is that there is a direct conflict between Indiana’s Second Chance/Expungement Laws and federal law. Indiana allows you to get a permit if your criminal records were expunged, however, federal law prohibits it. UPDATE: While most of 2015, the Indiana State Police was denying convictions that were expunged, as of 12/2015, they are changing their tune, and the language contained in the order granting the expungement has become crucial — click here tofind out why.
  5. Mental/Psychological Reasons: without a letter from your provider stating you should not be precluded from owning a firearm, it can be tough to get a permit issued.
  6. Domestic Issues/Protective Orders: if you have a domestic-related conviction and/or have been the subject of a protective/no contact order, you can be precluded from a permit. You may need to file a petition for restoration of gun rights…click here to find out how that works.
  7. Court Order: as part of any court, if you were denied the ability to own or possess a firearm, you may be denied a permit
  8. Improper Handling of a Firearm: typically any crime where you were alleged to mishandle a firearm (i.e. criminal recklessness with a firearm, pointing a firearm, etc.) you will be denied a handgun permit.

DENIED? CRAP. THE APPEALS PROCESS:

If you were summarily denied by the Indiana State Police, and you believe you are legally entitled to receive a license to carry a firearm in Indiana, then don’t fret, there is an appeals process.
Each time you apply for a permit and it is denied, the Indiana State Police will send you a letter on their letterhead explaining the reason for the denial. In that letter, there will be language explaining the appeals process and what you must do to formalize the appeals procedure. Typically, that requires a written request for an appeal through one of two channels:
(1)    By filing a formal request for an appeal through the U.S. Mail to:

  1. Indiana State Police Firearms Licensing Section, 100 N. Senate Avenue – IGCN, Indianapolis, IN 46204; or

(2)    By faxing a formal request for an appeal to 317.233.9730
On receipt of your request, the Indiana State Police will send you another letter (yes, on letterhead), stating, again, why the application was denied, citing the applicable statute that gives them the authority to do so. In the second paragraph of the letter will be a pre-arranged meeting schedule for your appeals process with the Firearms Section of the Indiana State Police. The date and time will be pre-set for you. Most hearings are held in the Indiana State Police Conference Room, Room 302, in the Indiana Government Center North, Indianapolis, IN.
The letter will also state that you have the right to counsel with you at that meeting. Given the hearing will be formally held before an Administrative Law Judge, it’s almost always beneficial to have a lawyer with you to make the arguments on your behalf. Attorneys typically are accustomed to formal, legal settings and know how to properly address the court and present argument on your behalf.
If you fail to appear for that hearing, the Judge will enter a default judgment against you, and you will be formally denied the license at that point, and your appeal is dismissed.

CONCLUSION:

Given the fundamental right to own, possess, and bear arms, common sense leads to reason that many take the application and appeals process very seriously. And, considering that a denial of your license process can have a long-term effect on your constitutional rights, it’s essential that you hire representation that can assist you through the appeals process and formal adjudication hearing with the Administrative Law Judge.
The attorneys at Banks & Brower have the experience and knowledge to help you through your appeals process, every step of the way. We have helped countless people earn their right to possess a concealed weapon through a successful appeals process, and we would love to help you as well. Give them a call at (317) 870-0019 or “shoot” (pun intended) them an email at info@banksbrower.com.