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Police, prosecutors fear more violence in wake of Indiana’s permitless carry law

INDIANAPOLIS — After a news conference called to address, “Permit Less Carry Impact on Public Safety in Marion County,” I asked Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor what will happen now that Indiana has done away with its handgun permit requirement.

”I don’t want to be a downer, but I imagine as we start checking the data we’re probably going to see an increase in gun violence because people feel embolden about having a weapon on their side.”

Taylor had just participated in a briefing organized by Rev. David W. Greene Sr., the senior pastor of Purpose of Life Ministries at 3705 West Kessler Boulevard North Drive.

“Just last night, though, across the street in the Woods of Oak Crossing apartments, there was a young man who was found shot and killed. This is close to us,” said Greene. “This will bring more violence to our city with minor conflicts ending up in gun violence.”

Before permitless carry went into law July 1, during the first six months of this year, Indianapolis had been experiencing a slump in non-fatal shootings as compared to 2021’s record pace. Last year, the city recorded 762 shooting victims as the result of 677 incidents. As recently as April 25, IMPD reported that non-fatal shootings were down by 20% in the city.

Since that time, the decline in incidents has been cut in half to 10%, meaning non-fatal shootings are occurring more frequently.

Now that police officers are not allowed to inquire about a gun owner’s permit status, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said investigators will need to find alternative means to track down illegal guns and charge the people who have them.

”It took about 2,900 guns off the street, which allowed us to take those guns from criminals so they’re not out there,” said Mears. “We’re seeing a real significant proliferation of people buying guns online and people buying and selling guns online and in particular social media platforms like Instagram.

“So that’s really where we’re gonna shift resources and make sure that we’re partnering up with law enforcement to track those individuals.”

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana Zachary Myers said federal laws and investigative techniques will help local police and prosecutors make their cases.

“We heard the discussion that a lot of children that are getting their hands on firearms are getting them through the internet,” said Myers. “Well, one of the things on the federal side that we’re very good at is getting information from electronic devices, from Instagram and these other social media providers, to help unravel who’s selling these guns to children, who’s selling conversion devices to put machine guns in our children’s hands.”

Mears said prosecutors are investigating more cases involving Glock switches, which permit handguns to be fired in full automatic mode.

Chief Taylor said that while his officers may not see more guns on the street, the public is.

”I think people are noticing that more, especially citizens are noticing it,” he said. “Beforehand, people might not want to carry, but now it is going to open up the door for more of that.”

Taylor said street officers are limited in how far they can investigate if they encounter someone with a gun on the street.

“If they’re just carrying, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. It’s those actions that they take with that weapon that are more concerning to us,” he said, ”and one of our biggest concerns is people who don’t have the right mental attitude carrying a weapon and deciding to get mad about something, and then using it to take care of their problem.”

Under Indiana’s previous gun permit system, it was up to the gun owner to prove the legal right to have a firearm.

Indiana’s permitless carry law brought state statutes into line with federal regulations making gun ownership illegal for anyone under criminal indictment, convicted of domestic violence, subject to a restraining order, , judged mentally defective or under the age of 23 and found previously to be a delinquent juvenile.

“Now it’s on us to confirm those things,” said Taylor. “The real downside to that, especially where juveniles are related, is we don’t have easy access to some of those databases that we need.

“It may be that we do have to release them and catch up with them later, which would be unfortunate.”

Mears said his office would continue to prosecute gun permit defendants who were cited previous to July 1 of this year.