INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– State lawmakers have proposed more than a dozen firearms bills in the General Assembly thus far this session and the majority favor the rights of gun owners while some eliminate or hamper the ability of police to enforce current and future laws.
House Bill 1051, called the Federalism and Firearms bill, would make it a misdemeanor offense for a police officer to assist a federal agent or enforce any new federal gun laws enacted after Jan. 1, 2017.
“Local officials are concerned about the federal government coming in over states and confiscating firearms,” said freshman Senator Jack Sandlin, an Indianapolis Republican who served 23 years on the city’s police force.
Sandlin said he hasn’t studied the bill enough to know whether, if passed, it would cripple the ability of IMPD or State Police detectives to cooperate with federal agents in gun investigations.
When asked whether Indiana gun owners are in danger of federal overreach in restricting the type of firearms rights HB 1051 seeks to address, Sandlin said, “I haven’t seen it.”
Republican sponsors of this bill and several more were unavailable or refused to comment.
Other bills would repeal the requirement for an Indiana handgun license, eliminate most state regulations of firearms, their ownership and sale, provide tax credits for firearms training, scrap sales taxes on guns and ammunition, permit firearms on college campuses, state prison grounds and school property and buses as well as in churches that also house schools.
“This would allow those that are attending religious services and other functions on the grounds of the church to be able to be armed as long as they are properly licensed,” said Sandlin, author of Senate Bill 78. “We see these warnings that are being issued by the Department of Homeland Security warning churches around the country that they’re vulnerable to attacks and so I’ve been approached by some people in my district that have asked to have the ability.”
In 2015, Dylann Roof shot to death nine people in a racially-motivated attack at a Charleston, South Carolina, church. This month he was sentenced to death.
“We don’t want to have somebody inadvertently committing a felony when they believe they may be properly licensed and acting in an appropriate manner,” said Sandlin.
Other bills would prohibit police departments and sheriffs from destroying confiscated firearms, permit the use of a gun as collateral for a loan, require an order be issued to prohibit a domestic violence suspect from possessing a gun and explore the microstamping of weapons and ammunition to enhance investigative tracking of firearms.
State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis), sponsor of the ballistics study bill, said she admits there might be little chance of its passage but hopes to at least encourage debate.
The fate of several firearms bills will be determined by their success in committee or the reluctance of legislative leaders to emphasize their passage while focusing instead on jobs and economic growth during the current legislative session.