Important Gun Legislation Advances in Indiana

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posted on March 5, 2014
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Legislation that would eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome firearm regulations as well as end the public funding of "gun buyback" programs easily passed the Indiana House of Representatives this week and goes back to the Senate for concurrence, before heading to the governor for his signature. The anticipated passage of SB 229 would solidify Indiana as one of the most gun-friendly states in the country, where lawmakers continually strive to make purchasing, owning and carrying firearms by Hoosiers as uncomplicated as possible.

SB 229, which passed the House by a 74 to 24 margin March 3, would permit firearms to be locked out of plain sight in a vehicle while parked on school property. The measure also removes the "roaming school zone" provision from current law, and defines "school property" as property of the school and not other buildings that might be connected to the school by a parking lot.  Bill proponent Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) said the measure will ensure law-abiding students, parents and teachers don't unknowingly break the law by driving onto school grounds with firearms in their vehicles. Under current Indiana law, bringing a firearm onto school property and leaving it locked inside a vehicle could result in a Class D felony charge.

In addition, SB 229 prohibits cities, municipalities and police departments from conducting programs in which money or cash vouchers are paid for guns—often with no questions asked—and the firearms are subsequently destroyed. The bill "prohibits a local unit of government, including a law enforcement agency, from conducting a firearm buyback program…and establishes a procedure to permit certain individuals whose firearms have been retained by a law enforcement agency to have the firearms sold at auction and the proceeds, less the costs of sale, returned to the individual."

Critics of the well-intentioned, but misguided city and police department programs argue the term, "gun buyback" is a misnomer, because firearms collected by participating law enforcement agencies were never owned by the city or government in the first place. Second, it's unlikely the programs that distribute cash or merchandise vouchers for firearms are truly removing them from the hands of criminals or making communities safer by allegedly "taking guns off the street."

SB 229 would not prevent private entities, such as churches and civic organizations, from conducting their own "gun buyback" programs.

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