"How are the Indiana gun laws made in the Legislature? What do the Indiana Legislators do to make sure they pass the right laws and make necessary changes to the law?"
Just 10 years ago, I couldn’t even begin to answer these questions. In fact, my unanswered personal gun-law questions were far easier but nagged at me without the ability to find ready answers. For example, where could or couldn’t I carry a handgun with my Indiana unlimited License to Carry.
As some of you know, I am an Indiana attorney with a life-long interest in firearms. After much consideration based on my personal questions, I decided to research and write a simple guide on the subject of lawfully carrying a handgun in Indiana.
The first book, Indiana Handgun Law 2005, was a smash hit; it received national and local accolades and it has received “rave reviews” – commonly referred to as “the Firearms Bible” and came from individuals and groups ranging from attorneys and law enforcement officers to the general public.
This simple guide ultimately was published as a book, taking every spare minute of nearly two (2) years (vacations, evenings, and weekends) to write at just a fundamental level. Two years and innumerable research hours later, Indiana Handgun Law, Second Edition was published.
Thousands of hours later, the text was expanded and published in its third iteration and now covers all substantive state and federal gun laws. Specifically, in October, 2010, Indiana Firearms Law Reference Manual, Third Edition was published.
Today, more than fifteen thousand copies are in daily use throughout Indiana.
In April, 2011, the reliance on this text reached a milestone when I was invited by Sen. Jim Tomes, Rep. Evansville, to participate in Indiana’s proposed legislation to change gun laws. In this, and the ensuing blog posts, I will walk you through the answers to the opening questions presented in this post.
In addition, I will address the sweeping changes passed this legislative session in certain areas of Indiana gun law.
I was honored and humbled and am a better citizen, lawyer, and writer from it; nevertheless, I remained true to the original purpose I had when I began drafting the first Indiana gun book: write an apolitical text so everyone who chose to do so could follow the law or seek to change it.
That said, I was pleased to find the answers straight forward and easy to understand. In the most basic form, a member of the Senate or House sponsors a bill, a gun bill, to address problems and/or shortfalls in gun law, with like-minded legislators supporting it.
Once it passes the respective body, it is sponsored by a member of the other body of the Legislature. If the law passes this body, differences are hammered out and the matter voted on by the entire General Assembly. Once worked out, and passed this is sent to the Governor for signature.
These additions or changes in the Indiana law are then woven into the Indiana civil or criminal code. To ensure the right changes and revisions are made in gun laws, the Legislators elicit advice and opinions from everyone ranging from the paid lobby to legal advisors. It is here where I hope my efforts fit within the scheme of things.
What follows in the ensuing blog posts is an analysis of the two (2) Indiana bills that passed, SB 506 and SB 292, which will become law once signed by the Governor and effective as of July 1, 2011. I hope this helps you comply with changes in the law, which I affectionately title “Revised Indiana Gun Law 101.”
How the posts will be structured is on three levels. First, I will endeavor to present the current law in a meaningful way. Second, I will then walk through the legislative changes that will become the law later this year when signed by the Governor. Finally, I will differentiate between the current law and future law and relate it to your daily needs.
I believe most bad gun laws are made as a knee-jerk response to a public outcry from a lawful gun owner making a mistake with the handling of their gun. Understanding these changes is one way to avoid this. I hope this plays some small role in lawful compliance and development of Indiana gun law.