Hoosiers firmly believe in individual liberties and personal responsibility, which is why it is no surprise that Hoosiers across the state strongly support the right to bear arms. Before the start of the 2014 legislative session, I sent out a survey to everyone in House District 75, as I do each year, to gain a better understanding of what my constituents wanted to see happen. One of the ten questions I asked on the survey had to do with our state’s current gun laws.
Specifically, the question I posed explained that under current state law, a person with a hand gun permit may legally have a gun in their vehicle while dropping their child off at school. However, if they need to leave their vehicle to go into the school for any reason, it is a Class D felony to leave the handgun locked in the trunk of their car while entering the school.
Citizens, who were legal gun owners, were committing a felony if they had to get out of their car for any reason on school grounds. As a result, I wanted to know if you supported changing the law to allow that person to lock their legally owned handgun safely out of sight while on school property.
After reviewing the results of the survey and meeting with constituents, interest groups, teachers, administrators and many more, I supported Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 229 this session, which allows legal gun owners to lock their firearms in their cars and to keep them out of sight.
This legislation, which will go into effect July 1, means that if a parent needs to go inside their child’s school for a parent-teacher conference or other school function, they will not be breaking the law, as long as the car is locked and their firearm is not left in plain sight.
This new law also addresses roaming school zones, which are areas where classes are taking place or where students are visiting, such as a historical site or zoo. Current law provides that it is a felony to knowingly or intentionally possess a firearm in or on property that is being used by a school for a school function. Therefore, a law abiding gun owner could be committing a felony if they are on property that ends up also being visited by students on a school field trip. To alleviate this problem, SEA 229 eliminates roaming school zones as it relates to firearm possession.
I cannot emphasize enough that the portions of this new law concerning schools only applies to legal gun owners. As a grandfather of young children, I want to be very clear on this. This new law will in no way, shape or form permit guns to be brought into our Indiana schools.
It is illegal, a felony to be exact, to possess a firearm on school property outside of your car or on a school bus, and the legislation we passed this session does nothing to change that. The changes that come with SEA 229 are simply logical updates to current law that make certain that individual liberties are balanced with the need to protect our children.