On July 1st, 2022, House Bill 1296 was signed into effect by Indiana’s General Assembly. HB 1296 nullifies the law previously held by the state requiring Indiana residents to obtain a permit in order to carry a handgun. With these changes, Hoosiers that meet the requirements to legally carry, can do so without the possession of either a license nor a permit. To clarify, this law does not abolish the criteria which must be met to legally carry in the state.
IN INDIANA, YOU CANNOT CARRY IF:
> You have been convicted of a state or federal offense punishable by a term of
imprisonment exceeding one year
> You have been convicted of a crime of domestic violence
> You have been restrained by an order of protection
> You are a fugitive from justice
> You are under indictment
> You have been adjudicated dangerous
> You have been adjudicated a mental defective
> You have been dishonorably discharged from military service of the National Guard
> You renounced your United States Citizenship
> You are under the age of 18
> You are under the age of 23 and have been adjudicated as a delinquent child
> You are in the country without proper immigration status
At face value, the criteria mentioned above seems to take the needed precautions to safely authorize the possession of firearms. However, if that were the case, how do we account for the average of ten mass shootings per year in this state? In Indianapolis alone, it is evident that gun violence continues to be on the rise. The Indianapolis Metropolis Police Department reported that there were 762 shooting victims in 2021. This was a record setting number and an increase of nearly 6% from 2020. With an average of more than one person shot per day in Indianapolis alone, it is unfathomable that the state would respond by lessening the restrictions on gun laws.
It is evident that the Governor of Indiana, Erik Holcomb, is not taking the necessary actions to decrease gun violence. In fact, in response to the Greenwood mass shooting that took place on July 17th, Holcomb simply praised the good Samaritan that killed the perpetrator and his “heroic actions.” Rather than commenting on the fact that there was yet another mass shooting that took the lives of four Hoosiers, Holcomb praised the man that, ironically, fatally shot the gunman. While this good Samaritan may have saved many lives, this scenario cannot be used as a reason to avoid strengthening gun laws.
When researching Johnathan Sapirman’s history, the 20-year-old suspect of the Greenwood mass shooting, it is undeniable that this young man should not have been permitted to purchase and carry a firearm. Sapirman had a history of assault and drug use, which led to his arrest on multiple occasions. Along with these offenses, there are also reports of condemning posts on social media where he is seen making threats and revealing his weapons. So yes, while a good Samaritan did save many lives, this mass shooting could have been avoided all together if our state held harsher gun laws, which include background checks, required training, a mental health examination, and constant observation of a gun owners behaviors presented on social media and in public.
As UE students, how can we combat gun violence? The first step is to register to vote. If you have not yet done so, your time is running out! The voter registration deadline in Indiana is October 11th. Voter efficacy is more important now than ever. Each vote, including your own, makes a difference. If you want your voice to be heard, then I highly encourage you to vote in this year’s midterm election and all elections in the following years. For more information concerning the fight against gun violence, check out the student created organization March For Our Lives.