News Archives


Hoosiers still required to have handgun licenses

Indianapolis Star 5/21/2017

In most cases, Indiana law requires that a person carrying a handgun  or having one in a car must have a handgun license. There are obvious public safety reasons for the law; the same as there are public safety reasons that require us to have a license to drive in our state.

In the 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly, a few of the members tried to get a law passed to have the handgun license law totally repealed, so that Indiana residents could carry handguns with no licensing necessary at all. Wisely, this attempt failed.

On May 9, 2017, Justice Rucker of the Indiana Supreme Court, in one of his last decisions before leaving the bench, wrote the opinion in Pinner v. State of Indiana.  The question to decide was whether police officers can stop and search a citizen and seize his property without a  reasonable suspicion that the person was committing a crime, or was about to do so.

A taxi driver had seen his passenger drop a handgun  while he was leaving the cab, and the driver notified the police. The police came to the grill where passenger was and questioned him. He denied he had a weapon. The police officer saw the butt of a gun in Mr. Pinner’s front pocket. They took the gun and arrested him for carrying a handgun without license. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled this was an illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the evidence could not be used. The Court said that the police may not stop a person or do a search and seizure just to see whether an individual has a proper license, whether it be for driving a car or carrying a weapon. It is only where there are particular facts that make the officer believe there is illegal conduct involved, that stopping the person and taking the weapon are allowed.

Some of the people and organizations who are trying to repeal the handgun licensing law in Indiana hail the Pinner decision, telling us it will result in ending our responsibility to obtain a license to carry a handgun in public or in a vehicle. It means nothing of the sort. The Supreme Court does not say there is any constitutional issue with requiring a handgun license. The Court’s decision means only what it says; the police may not put a person through a search and seizure unless the officer “has reasonable suspicion that criminal activity may be afoot”.  That means, only if there is good reason to believe the person is engaged in or is about to commit a criminal act may the search and seizure take place,

Those who are trying to end handgun licensing in our state, particularly by twisting the meaning of the rulings and intent of the highest Court in Indiana do us all a disservice. They provide harmful misinformation to the public. Haven’t we have had enough of such tactics in our state and in our nation.

Morris L. Klapper

Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence board member



Restricting gun removal is detrimental to public safety

5/17/2017 Indy Star

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled in Thomas Piner v. State that law enforcement officers may not detain and question a person based “only” on a report that the individual has a gun. I do not disagree with the court’s decision but I totally disagree with Guy Relford’s   position that this supports the argument in favor of revoking the Indiana statute requiring a license to carry.

The lack of a universal background check law in Indiana has resulted in illegal gun trafficking within our state and across our boarders to Illinois which has some of the most strict gun laws in the country. The Chicago Police Department traced the origin of crime guns recovered from Chicago’s streets between 2001 and 2012 and found that 7,747 of those guns originated in Indiana. How many guns were illegally trafficked across Indiana’s boarder to Chicago that were not recovered at crime scenes? Whatever the answer, it is a big number and Indiana is consistently ranked among the top 10 states in illegal gun trafficking. Studies show that eliminating the licensing requirement to carry results in an increase in illegal gun trafficking.

Under current law, if an individual is picked up for a misdemeanor such as petty theft, simple assault and battery, drunk driving, drunkenness in public, various traffic violations and public nuisances, to name a few, and has a gun in their possession without a license to carry, which is a Class-A Misdemeanor, the officer can remove the gun. This was not the issue in Thomas Piner v. State. We already have a problem with illegal guns on our streets and restricting the ability of our law enforcement officers to remove some of these guns will compound the problem and be detrimental to public safety.

Ed Smith

President, Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence


Two bills on opposing sides of public safety.  (1/15/2017 Indy Star) 

SB 426 would enhance public safety by placing a ban on the open carry of assault weapons in Indiana.  We need to do what we can to help guard against the awful prospect of an assault weapons attack coming to our own doorstep.  These weapons of mass murder used in Newtown, Orlando, Aurora, San Bernardino and Columbine High School do not belong on our streets.

HB 1159 is a threat to public safety as it seeks to eliminate the requirement of a license for carrying a firearm in public.  The gun lobby drafted this bill and they are promoting it as a Second Amendment issue in an effort to mislead the public.  The Supreme Court has maintained important limitations on the Second Amendment and has reconfirmed that it is not an obstacle to smart gun laws that keep communities safe from gun violence.  This would include laws that currently exist in 41 states requiring a license or permit to carry a firearm.  Removing the licensing requirement will ensure that criminals can carry a firearm in public without police intervention.  The Indiana State Police have denied more than 2,000 applications for a license to carry in the first 9 months of 2016.  Under this proposed legislation, those 2,000 plus individuals would be on the streets today with no questions asked.

The gun lobby will argue that armed criminals will carry firearms regardless of the license requirement, however under current law police can remove that gun for lack of a license which is therefore a means of getting illegal guns off our streets.  Another argument by the gun lobby is that the cost of a license is a deterrent to low income individuals when in fact, the cost for a four year license is $40.00.

Legislators who choose to oppose SB 426 or support HB 1159 are placing our citizens and law enforcement officers at greater risk and cannot hide behind the Second Amendment.

Ed Smith, President

Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence

Proposed Gun Law  is Dangerous  (1/22/2017 Indy Star) 

A bill now before the Indiana Legislature, H.B. No. 1051, is harmful to public safety and endangers local and federal law enforcement officers. The proposed law would prohibit any law enforcement employee of the state, such as the Indiana State police, and any city or county law enforcement officer, such as officers of the Indianapolis Marion County Police Department, from assisting any federal officer in various situations involving firearms. State and local peace officers would be prohibited from helping in the enforcement of any federal law enacted after January 1, 2017, involving firearms accessories, ammunition or personal firearms. That means, for example, if the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration or even the Border Patrol needed and asked for help in enforcement, local police officers could not provide the help.

If the State Police or local law enforcement agencies attempted to assist, the first time they did so they would be subject to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, and after that, if they responded to the call for assistance from their brother officers, they would be subject to a one-year jail sentence and a $5000 fine. Further, the city for which the local peace officer works would not be able to receive state grant funds, if it had a policy of allowing their police officers to assist the United States police officers in these firearms matters.

The bill is ill-conceived and dangerous. There should be no hesitation to assist a fellow police officer in matters concerning law enforcement. Federal laws prohibiting, for example, certain ammunition types able to penetrate body shields, high powered, large caliber assault weapons or new types of silencers used in attacks on police officers could depend for their enforcement upon the concerted effort of state and local authorities acting in cooperation. Implementing a wedge between state and federal law enforcement officers, including the real threat of jail terms and fines for providing needed help, is a disastrously bad idea.

Morris Klapper

Board Member, Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence 

Guns on campus don’t make students safer (1/26/2017 Indy Star) 

Representative Lucas, R-Indianapolis submitted HB 1258 to the Indiana House. This bill, sought by the gun lobby, would prohibit state university campuses in Indiana from limiting the carrying, possession or transportation of firearms on campus.  This bill is opposed by the vast majority of students, administrators and campus safety officers. It is argued by proponents that it would make students safer from assault or other crimes despite the fact that there is no credible evidence that increased concealed carry has any impact on crime. Perhaps because so few guns are on campus, colleges are much safer places than the community at large.

Guns on campus do carry significant risk. There is abundant evidence that the presence of guns is associated with accidental shooting deaths and with suicide risk. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, and has been for many years.

The use of a gun already available allows almost no delay between the impulse and the act, and suicide impulses are often fleeting. These features, short time period and lethality, are reflected in one of the best documented findings on firearm violence: the presence of a gun in the home more than triples the risk of suicide.  Also, states with a higher percentage of gun owning households have much higher suicide rates. Arming students will not make anyone measurably safer from crime, but guns in dorms will very much increase the risk of suicide and accidental death. This bill should not be passed and does not deserve a hearing.

Dr. Stephen R. Dunlop

Board Member, Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence

Lucas presents faulty gun arguments  (1/27/2017 Indy Star)

In Rep. Jim Lucas’ letter on Jan. 22,  he makes the claim that everyone has a constitutional right to a gun which is contrary to the Supreme Court’s position that the Second Amendment is not an obstacle to smart gun laws that keep communities safe from gun violence.  Senate Bill 426 would ban the open carry of assault style weapons and not traditional rifles as Jim Lucas suggests.  Compared to traditional rifles and handguns, assault weapons that accept large magazines of ammunition make it fairly easy to kill or injure large numbers of people within a short period of time and as a result have become the weapon of choice for mass murder.  They do not belong on our streets.   One argument he uses to defend House Bill 1159, which would eliminate the license required to carry a firearm, is that law abiding citizens must pay the state a large fee when in fact, the fee is $40 for a 4 year license.  He states that “lawful people aren’t the problem, it is the people that have no regard for life or law that are the problem”.  That is exactly why we need the licensing requirement to attempt to weed out these people and remove guns from the streets carried by those who do not follow the law by obtaining a license.  Jim Lucas should explain his position on these bills with respect to public safety and the safety of our law enforcement officers who are out on the streets every day in an effort to keep us safe.

Ed Smith

President, Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence.



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