INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 1, 2022) – As of today, most people in Indiana can carry a concealed firearm without state permission. A new law legalizing permitless carry of a firearm in the state went into effect as of July 1, despite fierce law enforcement opposition. The enactment of this so-called “constitutional carry” bill will also foster an environment more hostile to federal gun control in the state.
Rep. Ben Smaltz (R) authored House Bill 1296 (HB1296). Under the new law, any person 18 or over can carry a concealed handgun without a state-issued permit. Under the law, the state’s concealed carry permitting program will remain in place for those wishing to obtain a permit to carry in other states that have CCDW reciprocity with Indiana.
On March 8, the House approved the final version of HB1296 by a 68-30 vote. The Senate approved the measure 30-20. With Gov. Holcomb’s signature, the law went into effect on July 1, 2022.
“HEA 1296, which I’ve signed today, entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our state,” Holcomb said in his signing statement.
There was some question as to whether Holcomb would sign the bill due to fierce police opposition. State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, the police chiefs association, and the county prosecutors association all lobbied against the measure. Rep. Mitch Gore (D-Indianapolis) also serves as a captain with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. During the House floor debate, he said, “Law enforcement generally is opposed to the bill.”
According to the Indianapolis Star, the passage of the bill caught Holcomb between two traditional Republican constituencies.
“If he vetoes the legislation, he risks being the sole politician to stand of the way of so-called “constitutional carry,” potentially angering the conservative wing of his party. If he signs the bill, he’ll be going against the wishes of the head of the state police, Douglas Carter, who accused lawmakers of pandering to lobbyists and political posturing.”
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing “constitutional carry” lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourage a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.