Free 5-year firearms, handgun licenses available in Indiana starting July 1

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Gun sales (Photo by MICHELE EVE SANDBERG/AFP via Getty Images)

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Starting Wednesday, state and local fees will be waived for Indiana gun permits under a new law that also offers legal protections for gun owners against civil lawsuits.

First authored by House Representative Jim Lucas in January of 2019, House Bill 1284 allows the fee waiver for the five-year, previously four-year, “Qualified License” and the “Unlimited License” gun permits.

The “Qualified License” is for hunting and target shooting. However, that is only for the gun permit. An additional hunting license for the particular game a person wants to hunt is required. The “Unlimited License,” which is for concealed carry, is for handguns only and is recognized by 32 states.

“Removing financial barriers to someone being able to exercise their Second Amendment right is very important,” said Republican state Rep. Ben Smaltz, a co-author of the bill. “It came to light over several hearings and it was our goal to eliminate those barriers for cost.”

Previously, four-year firearm and handgun licenses had local fees and a state fee. Many Indiana congressmen and women felt this infringed on a person’s Second Amendment right.

“The overarching goal of all of this is to put the ability in the hands of the person defending themselves,” Smaltz said.

Under the new law, a person can still hold a lifetime permit, a five-year permit, or both. The lifetime permit still has state and local fees attached.

When asked why a person might hold both permits, Smaltz explained that “[the] five-year permit will allow, if the State of Indiana and the Federal ATF come together, will allow a person to purchase a handgun during the period of their five-year permit without having to undergo a ‘NICS check‘ every time.”

He said this is beneficial for a person who has a common name. It eliminates a long process for a background check.

In Indiana, residents and those who work in the state but reside in another state may apply for either license. Smaltz said the bill allows a person to be able to register to vote when they are applying for a license to carry a handgun.

No class is required by law to hold a license, though many people still take a class to learn the laws surrounding carrying a firearm.

The Firearms Licensing Department of the Indiana State Police said fingerprinting is still required and there is a fee associated with that process.

Many other aspects of the bill are also going into effect Wednesday.

“Two pieces of the same law, but went into effect last July, [are] civil immunity in certain instances with justifiable use of force [and] giving all houses of worship the ability to decide their policy on their parishioners exercising their Second Amendment right while attending worship at their facility,” explained Smaltz.

“I do hope earnestly that everyone who is eligible for a free five-year permit acquires one,” added Smaltz.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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