Possession of a Firearm Without a License
The right to bear arms is protected by the U.S. and Indiana State constitutions. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Indiana constitution also addresses the right to arm oneself. Article I section 32 reads, “the people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.”
While the Courts have held that the government can’t prevent lawful citizens to own firearms, they have also allowed for the regulation of this process by requiring a gun permit with limited exceptions. I.C. 35-47-2-1 provides in pertinent part, “…a person shall not carry a handgun in any vehicle or on or about the person’s body without being licensed under this chapter to carry a handgun.” Any person who violates this chapter commits a class A misdemeanor which is punishable by a maximum of 365 days in jail.
They legislature did carve out some exceptions to ensure that the license requirement did not violate the constitutional rights as outlined above. First, you do not need to a license to carry a firearm in your home or other land you own. This includes any place that you own, rent, lease or legally control. This can be seen to include your home and your business. The next exception protects your right to carry a handgun in your car but has some specific requirements. You may carry a firearm in your car without a license if it is unloaded, secured in a case and not readily accessible. This right extends to the car of another person as long as the same requirements are met.
The law also excepts out hunters and sports shooting. You don’t need to have a license for your gun if you are engaging in target shooting, hunting, or if you are attending a firearms instructional course. Related to this, if you are attending a gun show, expo, gun owner’s club or the like you may possess a firearm in those venues without a license as well. Lastly, if you are in a place of business where you are getting your firearm repaired, maintained, or modified then you don’t need a license in that setting either.
Very recently, the Indiana Appellate Court firmly confirmed the right to possess a firearm when they decided seeing a firearm on a person does not allow a law enforcement officer to stop the person to inquire as to whether they have a license. The Court essentially pointed out that it is not a crime to possess a firearm, thus if police see a person with a firearm they cannot stop them just to see if in fact the person is complying with the statute that requires them to have a license.
As mentioned above, if you are arrested for possessing a firearm without a license, you can be charged with a class A misdemeanor. At that point it is important to hire a lawyer that is well versed in Indiana gun laws. At Banks & Brower the attorneys deal with gun related cases on a frequent basis and can assist you if you are charged with a gun crime. Our office accepts calls 24 hours a day at 317-870-0019.
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