Amended ‘red flag law’ bill advances out of Senate

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A firearms-related bill aiming to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals received the go-ahead to advance in the statehouse Tuesday, taking one step closer to becoming law.

Members of the Indiana Senate voted in favor of House Bill 1651 on Tuesday with a 36-10 vote. The amended bill, which has been returned to the House of Representatives for reconciliation, would close loopholes in the Jake Laird Law – more commonly known as the “red flag law.”  

That law was initially enacted to prevent people deemed “dangerous” from gaining access to deadly weapons. HB 1651 would further ensure that doesn’t happen.

Senate Sponsor Erin Houchin, R-Salem, said the multifaceted bill would strengthen the red flag law by adding to due process while balancing the interests of public safety.

The measure would also seal some gaps in the law by allowing for the names of “dangerous” individuals to be submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for background checks in the event that a “dangerous” person attempts to buy another firearm, according to bill author Rep. Donna Schaibley, R- Carmel.

If, for example, a “dangerous” person sought to purchase a gun one day after having their firearms confiscated under the law, they would be flagged as prohibited from buying another weapon. The measure would also clarify what defines someone as statutorily dangerous, replacing “emotionally unstable” conduct with “suicidal” conduct.

Several other gun-related provisions were grafted into the bill, including the ability to carry firearms on school property that also houses a place of worship. If a person legally possesses a gun and is a member or volunteer of the facility or is attending a religious ceremony, the firearm shall be permitted. But property owners would maintain the right to decide if firearms are permitted on the property.

Additionally, the bill would increase the current handgun carry license term from four years to five years and would enable five-year license holders to simultaneously carry a lifetime license.

Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, voted in favor of the bill, acknowledging that while he was disappointed the measure did not close a loophole regarding some background inspection requirements, the bill does ultimately expand the red flag law.

“I wish this bill had gone a little bit farther,” he said. “I wish some of these amendments hadn’t gone in, but anyway, I think the intent’s there and there is a benefit to the bill.”

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