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Indiana Gun Control Laws

Gun control laws exist at both the federal and state levels in the U.S. With gun violence often in the news, legislators struggle with how to best balance the right to own firearms with the need for reasonable regulations that protect the public.

Any discussion of gun laws begins with the right to bear arms. The U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions provide for some version of gun rights. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the right to own guns for self-defense and other purposes is an individual right. This has led to court fights over various state and federal statutes and their application. 

Most federal law regulating firearms came about in the 20th century. Through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal government follows an integrated strategy of regulation and law enforcement to enhance public safety.

Federal law requires the registration and use of certain dangerous firearms and the licensing of firearms dealers. It includes prohibitions on who can own, use, or gain possession of a firearm. Using the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), gun dealers and law enforcement can prevent the purchase or transfer of firearms into the wrong hands. 

State regulations can provide further restrictions, but they do not have to do so. In general, Indiana gun laws are less restrictive than those of many other states.

Indiana Gun Laws

State gun control laws regulate the purchase and use of firearms and can vary from state to state. Certain weapons and ammunition, such as machine guns and armor-piercing bullets are prohibited under Indiana's gun control laws. These laws contain limited exceptions, including those for active-duty military and law enforcement agencies. 

Indiana does not have an assault weapons ban or limit the sale of high-capacity magazines. Indiana also does not ban ghost guns, firearms that can be assembled through a kit or created through the use of a 3D printer. 

Gun purchases that go through a federally licensed gun dealer will require a criminal background check prior to delivery. Gun purchases that occur through a private sale have no such requirement.

Effective July 1, 2022, the State of Indiana adopted a permitless carry gun law. Often called constitutional carry, these laws allow a person who is not prohibited by law from possessing a gun to carry it either concealed or open without first obtaining a firearm license or permit. Indiana's law applies to anyone who is 18 years old or older.

Indiana maintains a system for issuing handgun licenses to meet the qualifications for reciprocity in other states. Residents of Indiana can apply for a license to carry handguns via their local chief of police or county sheriff. In contrast with other states, there is no fee for the Indiana license. 

Nonresidents can also apply for a handgun license if they have a regular place of business or employment in Indiana. They will apply to the sheriff of the county where the business is located. Applicants must also submit their fingerprints as a criminal background check will follow. 

Indiana does not require any specific firearms training before getting a license. It does provide general information on firearm safety rules at the time it issues a license. Indiana is a "shall issue" state, which means that if an applicant meets all objective criteria and passes a background check, a license will be issued. The Indiana State Police (ISP) provides helpful information on the process on their website.

Even with its more permissive approach in its public carry laws, Indiana prohibits bringing firearms into certain locations. These include:

  • School property and school buses
  • Secure areas of airports
  • Commercial or chartered aircraft
  • On the fairgrounds of the State Fair (with limited exceptions)
  • Casinos
  • Jails and prisons
  • The Indiana Government Center (Statehouse and Capitol in Indianapolis)
  • Private Businesses when they prohibit firearms on premises
  • Employment locations (employers can ban firearms in the workplace, but generally not in employees' motor vehicles)

Indiana enacted a red flag law in 2020 that permits law enforcement officers to seize firearms from someone who poses a risk of physical harm to either themselves or others.

Upon taking guns, a police officer must complete and file an affidavit in court explaining the reasons they conclude someone is a dangerous individual within 48 hours of the seizure. If the court finds probable cause, it will order law enforcement to retain the firearms and will set a final hearing with notice and service to both sides.

Overview of Indiana Gun Control Laws

The main provisions of Indiana's gun control laws are listed in the table below.

Relevant Indiana Gun Control Statutes (Laws)

Indiana Code, Title 35, Article 47: Weapons and Instruments of Violence

Illegal Arms

The following arms are illegal to own in Indiana in most circumstances:

  • Machine guns
  • Armor-piercing handgun ammunition

Waiting Period

There is no waiting period to own a firearm in Indiana.

Who May Not Own

You can't possess a firearm if you are prohibited to do so under Indiana or federal law (18 U.S.C. Section 922g), including if you:

  • Have been convicted of a serious violent felony
  • Have been adjudicated delinquent as a child for an offense that would qualify as a serious violent felony if committed by an adult until you reach age 26-28, depending on the crime
  • Have a domestic battery conviction
  • Have been determined to be a danger to yourself or others by a court (red flag law)
  • Convicted of any crime in a state or federal court involving a possible prison term exceeding one year
  • Are a fugitive from justice
  • Are illegally or unlawfully present in the U.S.
  • Are an unlawful user or addict of a controlled substance
  • Have been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution
  • Have been discharged from the Armed forces under dishonorable conditions
  • Have renounced your U.S. citizenship
  • Are subject to a court order, restraining harassment, stalking, or threatening harm to an intimate partner or a child of an intimate partner
  • Are under 18, with limited exceptions such as when authorized by a parent or guardian

License Required?

No. Indiana does not require gun purchasers or owners to get a license.

Concealed Carry License Required?

No. Indiana is a permitless carry state. If you are not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, you can carry a concealed firearm. However, there may be location restrictions.

Open Carried Allowed?

Yes. Open carry is allowed in Indiana for those who are not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm by law. However, there may be location restrictions.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

Indiana will issue you a license if you satisfy the following requirements:

  • You are 18 years of age or older, or 23 years of age or older if you had a juvenile adjudication for a felony
  • You provide a valid reason to carry a handgun
  • You are of good character and reputation
  • You haven't been convicted of a felony
  • You don't have a license to carry a handgun that is under suspension
  • You are not under arrest for certain felonies where a court has found probable cause that you committed the pending criminal charge
  • You are not prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law (18 U.S.C. Section 922g)
  • You are not prohibited from possessing a firearm under Indiana Code Section 35-47-2-1.5, and therefore:
    • Are not a fugitive from justice
    • Are not an illegal noncitizen
    • Have not been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, domestic battery, or criminal stalking
    • Have not been restrained by an order of protection
    • Are not under indictment
    • Have not been adjudicated a dangerous person under the Indiana red flag law
    • Have not been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution
    • Have not been dishonorably discharged from military service or the National Guard
    • Have not renounced U.S. citizenship
    • You meet the definition of a proper person to be licensed, which also means you:
    • Don't have a conviction for resisting law enforcement within the last five years
    • Don't have a record of being a drug or alcohol abuser
    • Don't have a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable conduct
    • Don't have a conviction for inability to handle handguns or have a prior conviction under this section of the Code in the last five years
    • Have not been found by a court to be mentally incompetent or been found not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty but mentally ill, or incompetent to stand trial
    • Have not made a false statement of material fact on their application

Machine Gun Laws

Possession of a machine gun is prohibited in Indiana under most circumstances.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

  • Unlawful carrying of a handgun is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. If the crime occurs on school property, after a prior conviction, or after any felony conviction in the last 15 years, it becomes a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Making an unlawful sale or transfer of a machine gun to a minor is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Penalties increase if the person selling or transferring the firearm has a prior conviction or the gun is used to commit murder.
  • Making an unlawful sale or transfer of a handgun to a prohibited person other than prohibition due to age or as a straw purchase is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. If the person uses the gun to commit murder, the crime becomes a Level 3 felony, punishable by three to 16 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm with an obliterated identity is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful provision of a firearm to a prohibited person other than prohibition due to age is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. If the person uses the gun to commit murder, the crime becomes a Level 3 felony, punishable by three to 16 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a person convicted as a serious violent felon is a Level 4 felony, punishable by two to 12 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a domestic batterer is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a dangerous person under the red flag law is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Unlawful transfer of a firearm to such a person is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a noncitizen is a Level 6 felony, punishable by six months to two years and six months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a dangerous person (juvenile offender who committed a serious violent felony) is a Level 6 felony, punishable by six months to two years and six months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of a machine gun is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Unlawful operation of a loaded machine gun is a Level 4 felony, punishable by two to 12 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Unlawful possession of armor-piercing ammunition is a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

It is a Level 6 felony to possess a firearm on or near school grounds or in a school bus, punishable by six months to two years and six months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Red Flag Law?

Yes. Under Indiana law, law enforcement must initiate any seizure or court action.

Universal Background Checks?

No. Indiana does not generally regulate firearms transactions between private individuals.

Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. Indiana has a stand your ground law that provides that a person acting lawfully and not initiating the aggression themselves can use deadly force with no duty to first retreat if they reasonably believe such force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to self or others.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

Federal Gun Laws and Indiana Gun Ownership

While Indiana and other states have their own gun laws, federal law also regulates gun ownership by determining the kinds of firearms citizens may legally own. Where federal and state laws intersect, federal law always trumps state law.

While the Second Amendment guarantees the ability to own certain firearms, the government does put some restrictions on the right to bear arms. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 and applies to all states. Likewise, the National Firearms Act applies to Indiana gun owners. Hoosiers will want to be familiar with both statutes. You can also find additional information on these other FindLaw pages:

Learn More About Indiana Gun Control Laws From an Attorney

State and federal firearms regulations can be confusing, especially when they overlap. If you have a criminal or civil case involving guns, it makes sense to seek legal advice. To learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner in Indiana, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney near you today.

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