INDIANAPOLIS – A major new gun law eliminating the need for permits for most gun owners has put hundreds of criminal cases in central Indiana into question.
In Marion County, the impact is significant. Right now the Marion County prosecutor says there are close to 1,300 pending cases of carrying a firearm without license.
Starting July 1, Indiana law will no longer require Hoosiers to secure a permit to carry a handgun, but in Marion County anyone charged with the crime before next week will still find themselves in court.
“We’re going to continue to move forward with the prosecution of these offenses. We think it’s an important message to send to the community about responsible gun ownership,” said Marion County prosecutor Ryan Mears.
Prosecutor Mears admits he has been alerted that a number of defense attorneys plan to challenge the ability of those cases to move forward.
“We certainly know that we’re going to have to litigate this issue in court,” said Mears. “We’re going to do that until we get rid of the 1,300 cases were have pending.”
The issue of course isn’t unique to Marion County.
From the moment permitless carry passed the Indiana statehouse, the Boone County prosecutor began a proactive approach to resolving cases with a diversion agreement, if carrying without a license was the only charge filed.
“Basically it’s making them pay a fine and do an online class and when you get those completed, the case is dismissed,” said Boone County prosecutor Kent Eastwood.
By next Friday, prosecutor Eastwood expects his office will have less than 10 cases where carrying without a license was filed as a standalone charge.
However, like Marion County, Boone County will still prosecute illegal carry cases which included other more serious criminal charges.
“We’re prosecuting as is, because at the time they committed the offense it was illegal and they’ve also committed other crimes with it,” said Eastwood.
Prosecutors in Johnson County say they have 32 misdemeanor cases of possession of a handgun without a license pending. They also added that dismissing the handgun charge would often not result in a complete dismissal of the case.