More Hoosiers arming themselves, but do they know their Indiana gun rights?

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Hoosiers are arming themselves in record numbers. Some fear for their safety or worry that gun laws will someday change. Whatever the reason, tens of thousands of people in Indiana learn how to fire a weapon every year.

But even gun rights advocates fear that as gun owners get handy with a weapon, few know the law about where and how they can use it or carry it in Indiana.

“We’re blessed in the United States and the State of Indiana that we can own guns, we can carry guns to protect ourselves and our family, but it is incumbent on us to be responsible owners of those guns,” said Boone County Sheriff Ken Campbell.

Ben Magenheimer knows all about Indiana gun law firsthand. The Evansville man works in the security business and legally carries a weapon openly every day for his protection and as a symbol of his gun rights. Magenheimer “open carries” everywhere he goes, including on a trip to the Evansville zoo with his family a few years ago. Zoo officials called police when they saw his gun in his holster. He was thrown out, even though he wasn’t breaking Indiana law by carrying a weapon into a city zoo.

“They confronted me like I was doing something wrong and knew it,” said Magenheimer.

>>We want to know how well you know Indiana gun laws. Click here to test your knowledge. <<

Guy Relford is one of the leading gun rights attorneys in Indiana. He says police, government officials and even gun owners themselves often don’t know Indiana law like they should.

“We’ve had situations where people are thrown out of public places,” said Relford. “We’ve had people ordered to conceal their gun or face arrest. I’ve had clients who say they were going to seize his gun and seize his license to carry.”

In fact, it’s not hard to get confused about Indiana gun law. For example, Indiana does not require a permit to own a gun. Instead it gives a “license to carry.” Additionally, there’s no such thing as a concealed weapon permit in Indiana, which means any licensed gun owner could be carrying a weapon and you’d never know it.

“You can’t legislate safety. You can try. You can try to steer safety in that direction, but it finally comes down to the person,” said Campbell.

Many gun rights supporters say Indiana has taken a common sense approach to gun law–one that relies heavily on personal responsibility when it comes to carrying a firearm. In fact, with few exceptions, it’s perfectly legal to carry a weapon in virtually any public place in Indiana, like a restaurant or a bar. Gun owners can even enjoy a beer while carrying a gun as long as they don’t get drunk.

“Obviously, it’s not responsible gun ownership to drink to the point of intoxication while in the possession of a gun. It’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for those around you,” said Relford. “But we don’t need big brother to tell us that in Indiana, that’s a matter of personal responsibility.”

Supporters of Indiana gun laws say regardless of whether you find the law confusing or even lax, it’s important to remember the constitutional rights those laws are designed to protect.

“I think it’s very fortunate that our legislators have taken this common sense approach and listened to the citizens in Indiana in what they want an how they want the laws, ” said Campbell.

>>We want to know how well you know Indiana gun laws. Click here to test your knowledge. <<

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